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A delegation of National League for Democracy (NLD) lawmakers on Tuesday departed Burma for a 10-day study tour in China.
The NLD’s executive member Nyan Win said the 21-member delegation embarked on the friendly visit as the invitation of the ruling Communist Party.
“They are visiting China as per the invitation of the Community Party of China, and will stay there for about 10 days,” said Nyan Win.
“It is a goodwill visit, with no other agenda in particular.”
Four NLD members embarked on a similar goodwill tour in November 2014. Then a year later, in November in 2015, another delegation – led by Aung San Su Kyi – took a five-day trip to Burma’s northern neighbour where they were hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang.
Suu Kyi had previously visited Beijing earlier in June 2015.
China is Burma’s largest trading partner, with total trade exceeding US$2.7 billion in the 2014-15 fiscal year, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce, China is investing heavily in Burma’s infrastructure as part of its aim of creating economic corridors to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is currently working on a railway project in Burma worth $20 billion, which is expected to be completed by 2018.
But while Beijing enjoyed a strong relationship with the former military government, the new NLD administration is a more unknown quantity. China continues to harbour ambitions to resurrect the Myitsone Dam project in Kachin State, which was suspended under the tenure of the Thein Sein presidency in 2011.
Suu Kyi, for her part, ruled in favour of a Chinese company, Wanbao, continuing operations at the Letpadaung copper mine when she was head of a committee to investigate local protests and violence at the mine site, a decision that would have pleased Beijing but ruffled feathers among labour rights activists.