Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi met with Chinese President Xi Jingping in Beijing on 11 June, as part of the Nobel laureate’s four day visit to Burma’s goliath neighbour.
While it’s rare for the Communist Party of China (CPC) leader to engage with foreign opposition leaders, China has been eager to forge a deeper friendship with Suu Kyi ahead of the general election in November, in which her National League for Democracy (NLD) party is expected to do well.
The meeting also comes at a fraught moment in the Sino-Burmese relationship. President Thein Sein’s pivot towards democracy, and its ensuing thaw in US relations, has frayed the once stout alliance.
Furthermore, this year Naypyidaw’s vicious war in the Kokang region of northern Shan State has spilled over into China’s Yunnan Province, angering Beijing.
President Xi greeted Suu Kyi on Thurday as a potential ally in a new Burmese leadership formed by what could be country’s first free and fair election later this year.
Xi Jingping expressed his hope that Sino-Burmese ties be advanced, regardless of a change in what he called Burma’s ‘domestic situation.’
The Chinese leader said that strong ties between his party and the NLD would be a boost for bilateral relations.
The two parties share little in common when it comes to creed or mandate yet Suu Kyi has proved to be a friend to Beijing.
In 2013, Suu Kyi chaired a commission which cleared Chinese Letpadaung mine operators Wanbao of wrongdoing after Burmese police targeted unarmed land grab protestors with white phosphorous.
Suu Kyi also emphasised the importance of strong relations between the two neighbours on Thursday.
During her visit, the 69-year-old is expected to meet with Premier Li Keqiang, as well visiting Shanghai and the Burmese border province of Yunnan.
Thursday’s meeting took place at the Great Hall Of The People, on Tiananmen Square, the site of China’s massacre of unarmed democracy protestors in 1989, one year after Suu Kyi had risen to prominence via her opposition to a similar bloody crackdown by Burma’s then military regime.