The Chinese government is indicating it is not perturbed by an imminent and landmark meeting between U.S. and Burmese officials, despite Chinese media reports accusing Washington of using Burma as part of a strategy to contain China.
When Burma was one of the world's few pariah states, China was one of its staunchest global supporters.
Now, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepares for an historic meeting with leaders in Burma, Chinese media reports are interpreting the move as part of Washington's efforts to “isolate and encircle China.”
In a commentary carried in Wednesday's Global Times newspaper, Tsinghua University communications professor Li Xiguang says Secretary Clinton's visit will, in his words, “unnerve” China.
Li questions what he calls a “new U.S. Asian policy” that he says is aimed against China. He says Secretary Clinton's meeting is one example of this new strategy. He also repeats Chinese media accusations that the United States was behind the Burmese government's decision in September to halt work on a hydropower dam that a Chinese firm has invested billions of dollars in.
Despite this sharp tone in Chinese media, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei says Beijing is not too worried.
Hong says China believes that Burma and what he referred to as “relevant Western countries” should enhance contact and improve relations. He adds that he hopes this meeting will be conducive to Burma's stability and development.
Earlier this week, Burma’s top military leader visited Beijing and met with Chinese military officials. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and the commander of Burma's armed forces hailed the long-time friendship between the two countries and pledged to strengthen military cooperation.
During a regular briefing with reporters, Wednesday, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman was asked about reports that Burmese government representatives and Kachin rebel leaders met Tuesday in China's southwestern Yunnan province.
Hong responded by saying China hopes the relevant parties within Burma can resolve their differences through peaceful negotiations.
In recent weeks, Burmese leaders have disclosed details of a proposed peace agreement aimed at ending decades of conflict between the central government and ethnic rebel groups who have long fought for autonomy. The peace agreement is also a key demand of Western nations, including the United States.