Wen to skip Myanmar visit; Chinese envoy meets Suu Kyi

The meeting between Chinese diplomat and Suu Kyi assumes significance because it was rare since Beijing, has not known to have any contact with her in the past.

Last Updated: Dec 15, 2011, 22:13 PM IST

Beijing: China`s Premier Wen Jiabao, for
unknown reasons, has put off his visit to Myanmar scheduled
for next week and adding to the intrigue, a Chinese diplomat
met pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi for the first time.

Wen, who was scheduled to attend a summit of Mekong River
countries in Myanmar on Dec 19-20 will now be represented by
State Councillor and top diplomat Dai Bingguo.

Dai Bingguo will represent China at the Mekong meeting,
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Liu Weiman told a media
briefing today.

He also said Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar met 66-year-old
Suu Kyi and "listened" to her ideas on the bilateral
relations.

"Madame Aung San Suu Kyi has proposed a number of times
her desire for contact with Chinese side, and the Chinese
ambassador to Myanmar`s meeting was in answer to this".

Liu said The ambassador "listened to Aung San Suu Kyi`s
ideas. China has always strived to develop a comprehensive
strategic partnership with Myanmar, and supports the Myanmar
government`s efforts to advance economic and social
development and promote domestic reconciliation".

The meeting between Chinese diplomat and Suu Kyi assumes
significance because it was rare since Beijing, which backed
the military regime, has not known to have any contact with
her in the past.

The meeting coming close after the recent visit of US
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that was regarded as a
fence mending meeting with the pro-democracy leader whose
prolonged detention has lead to international isolation of
Myanmar for long.

Liu said China has exchanges with people in Myanmar "from
all quarters who support friendship and cooperation between
China and Myanmar, on a basis of mutual respect and
non-interference in domestic affairs".

Hillary’s visit had set off concerns in China with write
ups in the official media stating that the "one sided policy"
(backing only military regime) was not a popular choice.

"Many Asian countries are now tipping between the US and
China, however a one-sided policy will not be a popular
choice. The future of Myanmar will likely follow the same
logic," state-run Global Times said referring to Myanmar`s
recent decision to halt the construction of USD 3.6 billion
dam by Chinese company.

"This incident made some believe that Myanmar is showing
goodwill to the West at the expense of Chinese interest", it
said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry has not officially announced
Wen`s visit to Myanmar and Nepal (which has been postponed),
though officials have informally confirmed them in the past.

While there was no official reason assigned for the visit,
speculation was rife that China was unhappy with Myanmar
putting on hold the work of a Chinese company on the crucial
dam.

It was also a setback to Nepal as he put off his decision
to visit the Himalayan state which has witnessed protests by
Tibetan refugees.

Nepal is cracking down on Tibetans which drew stronger
protests from the refugees.

PTI