June 16, 2015

"When a global icon of democracy visits China—not exactly known for its democratic credentials understandably—all heads turn."

Financial Express Precisely so, on the heels of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s maiden visit to China (she leads Myanmar’s National League for Democracy, NLD), her first since she was released from house arrest in 2010. By Anurag Viswanath

'It materialised on an invite from the Communist Party of China (CPC), with official media Xinhua professing that the party welcomes all: “the same ideology, but also those with a different political vision.” Ironic, as “China’s Aung San Suu Kyi is still in jail”—a microblogger back home wrote. Homegrown Chinese Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo is languishing in house arrest since 2009. Liu championed the controversial Charter 08, a plea for political reforms in the country. It seems China has weighed pragmatics in favour, and so it seems has Suu Kyi.

'China can hardly ignore the importance of being Suu Kyi. Though Myanmar’s state-backed New Light of Myanmar kept uncharacteristically mum about Suu Kyi’s visit this time, in China she has met with at the highest level—President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi—according the respect reserved for a national leader. On the other hand, Suu Kyi can hardly ignore that China and Myanmar share a 1,300-km-long border (shorter than India-Myanmar’s 1,640 km), China is Myanmar’s largest trading partner (India is the fifth-largest) and the largest investor with cumulative investments of $14 billion in 2014.'

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