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Myanmar Leader Arrives in China for Historic State Visit

  • VOA News

China's Premier Li Keqiang (L) and Myanmar State Counselor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi review an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Aug. 18, 2016.

China's Premier Li Keqiang (L) and Myanmar State Counselor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi review an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Aug. 18, 2016.

A mothballed hydroelectric dam project funded by China is expected to dominate Thursday's talks between de-facto Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing.

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 holds several key posts, including state counselor and foreign minister.

China is eager to restart work on the $3.6 billion Myitsone project in northern Myanmar along the Irrawaddy River. Ninety percent of the power it creates would go to China. But the project was suspended in 2011 under a quasi-civilian government headed by former President Thein Sein, due to vocal opposition. The dam's opponents cite environmental concerns and a lack of electricity in Myamnar as reasons to halt the work.

A Myanmar government commission has been formed to review the Myitsone and several other proposed hydroelectric projects.

Aung San Suu Kyi is also expected to discuss peace talks between her government and ethnic minority rebel forces along the Myanmar-China border. Fighting in the region has sent a flood of refugees into China

She is scheduled to meet with President Xi Jingping on Friday.

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