Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi arrives in China for first visit
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrived in China Wednesday for a debut visit that will cast an intriguing light on Beijing’s attitude towards the democracy champion and Nobel laureate as she bids to take power.
Suu Kyi emerged from Beijing’s main international airport exit wearing a white top and pink sash and surrounded by police and security, before getting into a black sedan, according to an AFP reporter on the scene.
Beijing was a key backer of Myanmar’s military junta while it was under Western sanctions — most of which have been lifted since 2011 — a much needed international ally for a brutal regime that crushed dissent and kept Suu Kyi under house arrest for more than 15 years.
Now the 69-year-old is visiting China both as a free woman and a politician ahead of crunch elections slated for November at which her National League for Democracy party (NLD) are expected to make significant gains, if the vote is free and fair.
Nicholas Farrelly, a Myanmar specialist at the Australian National University, said the former political prisoner will not allow China’s historical support for a junta that imprisoned her to cloud her judgment.
“Aung San Suu Kyi is getting on with the business of trying to win an election. She will be utterly pragmatic about what is at stake and cannot afford to indulge un- due sentiment,” he told AFP.
“She knows that China will play a mighty role in Myanmar’s future.”
Suu Kyi is visiting Myanmar’s giant northern neighbor alongside a delegation of NLD members fol- lowing an invitation from China’s Communist Party.
The NLD has said she is expected to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, but no detailed itinerary has yet been released by the Chinese authorities.
Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, fourth left, arrives at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing, Wednesday, June 10.