China's Top Diplomat Visits Myanmar 07/03 08:38
BANGKOK (AP) -- China's top diplomat on Saturday arrived on his first visit
to Myanmar since the military seized power last year to attend a regional
meeting that the government said was a recognition of its legitimacy and
opponents protested as a violation of peace efforts.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will join counterparts from Myanmar, Laos,
Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam in a meeting of the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation
group in the central city of Bagan, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The grouping is a Chinese-led initiative that includes the countries of the
Mekong Delta, a potential source of regional tensions due to an increasing
number of hydroelectric projects that are altering the flow and raising
concerns of ecological damage. China has built 10 dams along the upper stretch
of the Mekong, the part it calls the Langcang.
Military government spokesman Maj. Gen. Zaw Min Tun told a news conference
in the capital Naypyitaw on Friday that the attendance of the foreign ministers
at the meeting was a recognition of Myanmar's sovereignty and its government.
He said the ministers will sign memorandums of understanding and contracts.
He did not elaborate.
It's unclear whether Wang would meet Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the head
of the military government.
Myanmar's military seized power from the elected government of Aung San Suu
Kyi on Feb. 1, 2021. It was quickly met by nonviolent nationwide demonstrations
and triggered armed resistance that some U.N. experts now characterize as civil
According to a detailed list compiled by the Assistance Association for
Political Prisoners, 2,053 civilians have died in the crackdown on the
Wang last visited Myanmar to meet with Suu Kyi just three weeks before the
military ousted her.
China is Myanmar's biggest trading partner and an old ally. Beijing has
invested billions of dollars in Myanmar's mines, oil and gas pipelines and
other infrastructure and is its major arms supplier, together like Russia.
Many in Myanmar suspect China of supporting the military takeover, and
Beijing has refused to condemn the army's power grab. China says it follows a
policy of non-interference in other countries' affairs.
The foreign minister of Myanmar's shadow government, which opposes the
ruling military council, protested the Bagan meeting, saying any such efforts
in partnership with Myanmar's military violate the will of the people and
undermine community building.
The statement said that holding the foreign ministers' meeting in Myanmar is
in direct opposition to a peace plan by the Association of Southeast Asian
Myanmar, although a member of ASEAN, has done little to implement the plan
and its stonewalling led fellow ASEAN members to block government leaders from
attending major ASEAN meetings.
Since the military seized power, Chinese special envoy Sun Guoxiang has
visited Myanmar twice, and Wang has met his Myanmar counterpart, Wunna Maung
Lwin, twice in China.