By Zin Linn
The Burma Army’s goodwill delegation led by Commander-in-Chief of Defense Services General Min Aung Hlaing left Naypyitaw by air for the People’s Republic of China, the state-media said.
According to Xinhua News, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on Monday hailed the country’s friendship with Burma and pledged further bilateral ties. Xi, also vice chairman of the Central Military Committee, met with Burma’s Commander of the Armed Forces Min Aung Hlaing Monday morning in Beijing.
“The friendship, forged by leaders of the older generations, has endured changes in the international arena,” Xi said. The two countries have put into effect fruitful cooperation and support each other on international and regional issues, Xi added.
The meeting took place a few days before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton begins a visit to the reclusive state.
Burma wants a “regular relationship” with the United States, Shwe Mann, the speaker of the lower house of parliament in the military-dominated country said on Friday, ahead of the first visit by a US Secretary of State in over 50 years.
After the Thein Sein government gave a political space to Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy party, the US showed hinted at warmer diplomatic ties with Burma.
Shwe Mann welcomed the Clinton visit and said Suu Kyi, who is to return to politics, would be embraced by the parliament.
Clinton’s visit on Wednesday is seen as a significant step for the US in a country that has long-lasting close ties to China.
However, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week her trip to Burma is to see whether the military-backed leadership of Burma is committed to both political and economic reform.
“We’d like to see more political prisoners released. We would like to see a real political process and real elections. We’d like to see an end to the conflicts, particularly the terrible conflicts with ethnic minorities,” Clinton said in an interview with Fox News.
Burmese government peace delegation will meet with the representatives of Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) in Shweli in China’s Yunnan Province on November 29, Mizzima News said.
On November 19 and 20, Minister Aung Min held preliminary talks with KIO leaders in Mae Sai, Thailand. During the meeting, the KIO presented videos of the three meetings between Kachin leaders and the peace delegates of the Kachin state government to put forward to President Thein Sein.
Burma had held general elections last year and freed democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest after polls. Thein Sein met Suu Kyi in August as a sign of change. Thein Sein has also challenged China by shutting down an unpopular dam project at Irrawaddy confluence that planned to supply power across the Sino-Burma border.
Experts say Clinton’s trip to Burma is not only to pressure for reforms in the country, but also to urge ending the ethnic war on China’s doorway. In the midst of growing concerns about the rise of China, Clinton’s tour also designed to reinforce US power in the region.
However, China does not seem fazed by the developments.
“China will work with Myanmar to further bolster the comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation,” said Xi.
Burma and China have become close allies during years of US and European sanctions.
Senator John McCain said he hopes Clinton during her trip to Burma will be able to make important progress in establishing democracy and winning the release of political prisoners.