Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Burmese opposition party the National League for Democracy (NLD), is set to make her first goodwill visit to China, following an invitation from the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC). She is scheduled to meet with the country’s President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang during the trip between 10 and 14 June.
DVB interviewed Burmese political analyst Dr Yan Myo Thein about the significance of this upcoming trip.
Q: Can you give us an analysis on Aung San Suu Kyi’s upcoming visit to China?
A: Burma is expecting to hold elections later this year, and diplomatic relations with China have not been the smoothest – the Burmese army is engaged in conflicts with several ethnic armed organisations along the Sino-Burmese border, and some Chinese civilians were killed when stray shells landed on their side of the border. China, in return, is conducting military exercises along the border. We can say this is a tough year in the history of Sino-Burmese relations, and I believe Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s upcoming visit to China will play a crucial role in diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Q: What do you think we can expect from her visit?
A: I believe Daw Aung San Suu Kyi should represent the people of Burma and be their voice during her time in China. While her visit is crucial to mending setbacks, to some extent, such as the growing mistrust and misunderstanding between the two countries, she must also urge the CPC leaders to ensure Chinese investments in Burma are beneficial to the general public in our country. Suu Kyi should ensure the CPC officials know that diplomatic policy between Beijing and Naypyidaw needs to be more focussed on a working relationship between the people of the two nations, rather than just between the governments or the ruling parties.
Q: Aung San Suu Kyi is evidently on good terms with Western nations. How do you think that China, being an emerging superpower, will try to deal with her?
A: I think all countries, whether China, the United States or any Western country, prioritise their national interests in their foreign policy with Burma. I assume China may also have an agenda in their national interest when they invite a popular, non-government Burmese leader for an official visit. But Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, likewise, can make their leaders aware of the previous consequences of Chinese investments in Burma, such as the Myitsone Dam project or Letpadaung Copper Mining project, and urge them to include Burma’s national interest in such projects.
Q: Any other comments you would like to add?
A: I believe Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be able to tell the Chinese officials about the Burmese public’s real opinion of both the Chinese government and people, and discuss issues that must be resolved in order to maintain the two countries’ relationship.