Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi arrives in China, likely to meet Xi Jinping on Thursday

BEIJING (AFP) - Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrived in China on Wednesday afternoon, making her first visit at a time of cooling relations between the once closely-bonded nations.

The democracy champion and winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize was seen getting into a black vehicle after her arrival at Beijing's main international airport.

Wearing a white top and a pink sash, she emerged from an airport exit surrounded by police and security before getting into the sedan.

She is visiting alongside a delegation of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party members following an invitation from China's Communist Party.

Beijing was a key backer of Myanmar's military junta while it was subject to Western sanctions, providing a much-needed international ally for a brutal regime that crushed dissent and kept Suu Kyi under house arrest for years.

Now the 69-year-old is visiting China both as a free woman and a politician ahead of crunch elections slated for November at which the NLD is expected to make significant gains, if the vote is free and fair.

The NLD has said she is expected to meet President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, but no detailed itinerary has yet been released by the Chinese authorities.

An official at the airport from Myanmar's embassy in China, however, said she would meet Xi on Thursday.