June 10, 2015

"It is useful for (the Chinese leadership) to play the Suu Kyi card to try and have a different approach, a different avenue to get their message across."

ABC News Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi meets with Chinese leaders in Beijing this week to build ties with her country's giant neighbor to the north, while China hopes to shore up its declining influence in the Southeast Asian nation following recent democratic reforms. by Louise Watt via AP

'The visit starting Wednesday gives the Beijing leadership a chance to get to know Suu Kyi at a time when Myanmar has shifted toward Western countries, Japan and other potential investors. Myanmar's citizens, now freer to protest, have stalled a Chinese-backed dam and other projects out of environmental concerns, and China is upset about fighting between the Myanmar military and rebels in the border area.
'"There are question marks on both sides as to where that relationship is headed," said Jurgen Haacke, a political scientist at London School of Economics.

'Suu Kyi is an international democracy icon for her yearslong defiance of, and imprisonment at the hands of, an authoritarian military government in Myanmar that was supported at the time by China, which still keeps fellow Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo imprisoned for his calls for democracy.

'However, Suu Kyi has maintained since her release in 2010 that her country must maintain friendly relations with China, and the trip demonstrates her determination to accumulate the diplomatic credentials to potentially contest Myanmar's presidency no matter how it might clash with her past role.'

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