Don't move closer to US, China paper warns Myanmar

A huge portrait of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is displayed on the facade of the National League for Democracy headquarters in Yangon as supporters rally outside on Nov 9, 2015.
A huge portrait of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is displayed on the facade of the National League for Democracy headquarters in Yangon as supporters rally outside on Nov 9, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING • A Chinese Communist Party-linked newspaper has warned Myanmar not to leave China's embrace for the United States, as opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi's party was slated to wrest power from the military-backed government.

Beijing was Yangon's closest ally during the later years of military rule, providing a shield from international opprobrium and a lifeline as a trading partner for the junta.

But China's extraction of raw materials spurred popular anger across Myanmar, and Ms Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy have vowed to better represent the will of the people.

As Myanmar's quasi-civilian government has moved towards open elections and worked to improve relations with Western countries, ties with China have moved "from special to normal", the Global Times said in an editorial.

Moving closer to the US would be "a witless move (that) would ruin the strategic space and resources it can obtain from China's amicable policies", the editorial said.

"China has been strategically magnanimous and kind."

Observers say the scale of interests China accrued in Myanmar during military rule, mainly in natural resources, added to internal tensions.

But in June, Beijing hosted Ms Suu Kyi in a sign that key players in both nations are keen on tying down future relations.

One of Myanmar President Thein Sein's first major acts after assuming power in 2011 was to halt construction of the huge Chinese-backed Myitsone dam. In an apparent reference to the project in Kachin state, the editorial said "the disruption of large programmes between the two sides does not serve Myanmar's interests".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2015, with the headline 'Don't move closer to US, China paper warns Myanmar'. Print Edition | Subscribe