Beijing: Myanmar military ruler Than Shwe
will visit China next week, the Chinese government announced
today, in another sign of the close ties between the
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said junta chief
Senior Gen. Than Shwe would make a four-day visit starting
Tuesday, with stops in Beijing and at the Shanghai Expo.
Premier Wen Jiabao visited Myanmar in June, the first
trip by a senior Chinese leader in almost a decade.
Than Shwe`s trip comes ahead of elections in Myanmar
in early November, which the junta is portraying as a key step
in shifting to civilian rule after five decades of military
domination. Critics call them a sham and say the military
shows little sign of relinquishing control.
China is Myanmar`s main ally, giving diplomatic and
economic support. Myanmar`s junta is shunned by the West
because of its poor human rights record and failure to hand
over power to the winners of the last elections two decades
China is now Myanmar`s third largest trading partner
and investor after Thailand and Singapore, with bilateral
trade totaling USD 2.9 billion in 2009. Up to January 2010,
China had invested USD 1.8 billion in Myanmar, or 11.5 per
cent of Myanmar`s total foreign direct investment.
China`s then-President Jiang Zemin visited Myanmar in