Top officials from Burma’s main opposition party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), met with representatives of China’s ruling party, the Communist Party of China (CPC), in Rangoon on Wednesday.
A delegation of officials led by Vice-minister Ai Ping of the CPC’s International Department and Ambassador to Burma Yang Houlan met with NLD patron Tin Oo and Central Information Committee officials Nyan Win and Aye Kyu at the party’s headquarters in Bahan, Rangoon.
“The CPC expressed hope that China – thanks to political reform in Burma – can now directly and openly engage with the NLD, unlike in the past. They are looking to increase relations with us,” said NLD delegate Aye Kyu.
“We agree with them and are delighted to re-establish communication with China, having had no engagement with them under the [Burmese] military regime.”
Aye Kyu told DVB that the NLD had enjoyed favourable relations with China up until the early 90s. China’s then ambassador to Burma was the first diplomatic official to meet with and congratulate the NLD after winning the elections of 1990. However the Chinese regime’s allegiance shifted after that point, going on to become the number one trading partner with the military regime.
Recently, China’s reputation in Burma has suffered amidst criticism of the actions of Chinese firms operating in conjunction with the Burmese government, notably the Myitsone dam and Latpadaung copper mining projects.
The NLD officials said the meeting with the Chinese delegation on 26 February did not include discussion about the projects. Instead, the meeting focused solely on increased engagement between the two parties, the countries and their populations.
Since Thein Sein’s civilian government ushered in political and economic reform, the Chinese government has invited leaders from across the Burmese political spectrum to visit China. The NLD has been invited to China on four such occasions.
Currently, China is looking to host NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Both the CPC and the NLD are working on a convenient date for her visit.