Leader of Myanmar’s ruling National League for Democracy party Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday began her first official visit to China as the State Counsellor, where she is slated discuss several issues with Chinese leaders, including stalled projects.
Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, will be received with a head of the state welcome by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang later on Thursday, and is set to meet President Xi Jinping on Friday, EFE news reported.
The visit that concludes on August 21, is her first overseas visit to a country outside the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) following her party’s win in the country’s general elections in December 2015.
It also comes barely a month ahead of her scheduled visit to the US, and is being seen as a positive move towards boosting bilateral relations with China, who had backed the Burmese military junta that kept Suu Kyi in home detention for 15 years.
However, ties between the two neighbours have frayed, especially over the Myitsone Dam, a Chinese investment project in Myanmar that was suspended in 2011, which Suu Kyi too had opposed at the time.
Myanmar’s nod to setting up a review committee for the project over the weekend has raised hopes in China — Myanmar’s main investor — that the project might be revived, according to recent reports in official dailies, including the Global Times.
Suu Kyi is also expected to discuss the peace process in Myanmar as the country gets ready to hold a national meeting to establish peace with ethnic minority guerrillas, two weeks from now.
Suu Kyi had earlier travelled to China in June 2015, months before her party came to power and she was named foreign minister and minister of the President’s Office.
A clause in the military-drafted 2008 Constitution forbade her from holding the country’s top post and her close aide Htin Kyaw was named the country’s president instead.