China to accord head of state welcome to Aung San Suu Kyi

China will accord a head of the state welcome to Myanmar's top leader Aung San Suu Kyi when she visits here next week, which the official media said is a "small diplomatic victory" for Beijing, considering she is visiting the Communist nation first before going to the US.

PTI| Updated: Aug 10, 2016, 19:17 PM IST

 Beijing: China will accord a head of the state welcome to Myanmar's top leader Aung San Suu Kyi when she visits here next week, which the official media said is a "small diplomatic victory" for Beijing, considering she is visiting the Communist nation first before going to the US.

Myanmar's State Counsellor and Foreign Minister Aung San Suu Kyi is "expected to be received as a head of state" when she arrives here on August 17, state-run Global Times reported.

She will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang during her visit.

Observers say that the head of the state welcome is in recognition to the 71-year-old Myanmari leader's status as the de-facto leader of the government even though she is only State Counsellor and Foreign Minister.

While this is her first visit trip outside ASEAN, (Association of South East Asian Nations) in which Myanmar is a member, she is visiting China ahead of her visit to US aimed to recalibrate China-Myanmar relations under the new Myanmar government, it said.

"It is also seen by analysts as a small diplomatic victory for China over speculations that bilateral ties might take a blow under the new administration, given China's close ties with the former military-backed government and Suu Kyi's identity as a democracy icon long hailed by the West," it said.

This will be Suu Kyi's second trip to China. She met with Xi the first time through a party-to-party channel in June 2015 before Myanmar's general election in November.

Her China visit also comes two weeks before the 21st Century Panglong Conference, a peace conference involving the Myanmar government, the military and ethnic armed groups.

China's support is seen as vital in resolving Myanmar's decade-long ethnic conflicts, it said.

China-Myanmar share long volatile borders and Beijing has deployed military at the border last year after five people were killed several others wounded in firing from a Myanmar jet reportedly while pursing Kokoang rebels.

"Choosing China as her first destination outside of ASEAN reinforces Suu Kyi's image as a pragmatic politician who prioritises national interests above ideology and one who is careful in balancing Myanmar's relations with China on one side and the West on the other," Ji Qiufeng, a professor of international relations at Nanjing University, said.

The de facto Myanmar leader is tasked with reviving Myanmar's economy and attaining national reconciliation with ethnic rebel forces.

"Both Myanmar and China know, as Myanmar's northern neighbour, China can help Myanmar in ways that the US cannot," Ji noted.

Suu Kyi last visited the US as the leader of the opposition in September 2012.

Suu Kyi is expected to discuss a broad range of topics with the Chinese leaders, including setting the tone for bilateral relations and facilitating trade and other economic cooperation.