China assures isolated Myanmar of its support

  • World
  • Wednesday, 08 Sep 2010

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Hu Jintao assured Myanmar's reclusive leader General Than Shwe on Wednesday of China's support for his diplomatically isolated country ahead of controversial elections in November.

"China pays a great deal of attention to relations with Myanmar," state television quoted Hu as telling Than Shwe, 77.

"Consolidating and developing Sino-Myanmar cooperation and friendship is our unswerving policy. No matter how the international situation changes, this policy will not alter," Hu added.

China is willing to increase its economic and trade cooperation with the former Burma, especially in the energy sector, Hu added, without providing details.

He said China and Myanmar must work hard on energy and other projects, which "benefit both peoples".

Military-ruled Myanmar is subject to wide-ranging economic sanctions imposed by Europe and the United States stemming from its bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 1988 and continued detention of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

But China is keen to maintain close ties with Myanmar, coveting its oil and gas and access to the Indian Ocean for poor and landlocked southwestern Chinese provinces. Yet it also frets about drug lords and rebel armies operating along the border.

In August 2009, refugees flooded across into China following fighting on the Myanmar side of the border between rebels and government troops, angering Beijing.

Than Shwe told Hu that his government was committed to ensuring stability on the border as part of a "long-set policy" of protecting its friendship with China.

"Maintaining peace and stability on the border is of the utmost importance to both countries," the report quoted Than Shwe as saying.

State television made no direction mention of Myanmar's Nov. 7 elections, at which the ruling junta's civilian proxies are expected to score a resounding victory. The U.S. and European governments have condemned the poll as a sham.

Hu said that China "understands and supports the Myanmar government's efforts to promote ethnic reconciliation".

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Sugita Katyal)

(For more news visit Reuters India)

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