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Chinese, Burmese Leaders Look to Strengthen Ties

  • VOA News

Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, left, and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping pose for the media before a meeting in Beijing, Aug. 19, 2016.

Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, left, and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping pose for the media before a meeting in Beijing, Aug. 19, 2016.

Myanmar's leader, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, met with Chinese president Xi Jinping Friday to discuss the future of relations between the two countries.

Xi said he hoped the five-day visit would strengthen the relationship between the two countries, which has suffered as Myanmar pushes more democratic reforms and stalls Chinese-funded projects in the country.

"China attaches great importance to developing relations with Myanmar," Xi said during a meeting at a government guesthouse in western Beijing. "We should adhere to the correct direction to push for new progress of bilateral relations and to bring tangible benefits to the two peoples."

A $3.6 billion dam project in northern Myanmar – suspended in 2011 by Aung San Suu Kyi's predecessor, Thein Sein – is expected to be a key topic of conversation during the visit. Since Aung San Suu Kyi’s appointment in April, Chinese officials have pushed for her to resume construction, but the project still faces overwhelming local opposition.

Aung San Suu Kyi said that "both sides are advancing relations and deepening mutual understanding and friendship" during the meeting, but later told reporters she had nothing new to announce regarding the Myitsone Dam.

Aung San Suu Kyi's visit to the Chinese capital is her first major diplomatic mission since her National League for Democracy party won a historic landslide election last year that finally brought an end to five decades of tight-fisted military rule. The Nobel Peace laureate is barred from serving as president under a military-drafted constitution, but she holds several key posts, including state counselor and foreign minister.

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