Xi Jinping meets Aung San Suu Kyi: Xinhua
Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi met Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday, state media said, during her closely watched first visit that China hopes will establish a line of communication with the influential opposition leader.
Suu Kyi met Xi at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, according to the official Xinhua News Agency, which did not immediately provide details on what was discussed.
Suu Kyi came to China at the invitation of the Communist Party, of which Xi is the general secretary.
“China and Myanmar are close, friendly neighbors,” Xi said, according to Xinhua.
“China always looks at the China-Myanmar relationship from a strategic and long-term perspective,” he added.
“We hope and believe that the Myanmar side will also maintain a consistent stance on China-Myanmar relationship and be committed to advancing friendly ties, no matter how its domestic situation changes.”
Xinhua did not immediately report Suu Kyi’s remarks.
Suu Kyi arrived in Beijing on Wednesday with an NLD delegation and met later in the evening with a senior Communist Party official Wang Jiarui, Xinhua reported late Wednesday.
It is rare for China to invite an opposition leader to visit, given its policy of avoiding involvement in what it calls the internal affairs of other countries.
Still, Suu Kyi’s welcome has all the hallmarks of an official visit — the imposing Great Hall of the People is where Xi regularly welcomes visiting heads of state.
“The Chinese realize they should not keep all their eggs in one basket and they see they need to build bridges,” said Willy Lam, a professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
“This policy shift is an improve- ment and represents a maturity in Beijing’s attitude towards relationships with authoritarian regimes,” he added.
“They used to just invest and build relationships with the powers that be.”
China’s foreign ministry said Wednesday that China hopes the visit will bolster “mutual understanding and trust.”
Suu Kyi will also travel to Shanghai and the southwestern province of Yunnan, China’s Beijing Youth Daily newspaper reported Thursday. The report did not say where in Yunnan she would go, but part of the province borders Myanmar where the ethnic fighting has occurred.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping, right, and Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi shake hands as they meet at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday, June 11.