Myanmar's junta leader Than Shwe arrived in China Tuesday for a four-day official visit that will also include meeting with Chinese senior officers and visits to Shanghai and the country's south.
The Myanmar's strongman, whose regime has drawn international condemnation for its human rights record and political repression, was to meet Wednesday with President Hu Jintao.
China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson claimed that the trip was to marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations. But analysts have suggested the visit has a lot to do with Myanmar's elections, planned for November, the first in two decades. They say the general may want to shore up China's support ahead of time.
While the West has slapped Myanmar with sanctions and criticised plans for its first election in 20 years in November, the relationship has worked well between the two countries. China has reportedly injected billions into Myanmar’s weak economy and has given the regime desperately needed diplomatic support. In return, Beijing has gained an access to Myanmar's natural resources and raw materials.
Critics and human right activists have urged China to press Myanmar on the elections issue, saying Beijing's policy towards the junta is "inconsistent with its claims to be a responsible power", although such move seems unlikely.
What does Myanmar's Than Shwe want from Beijing? [CNN, September 8, 2010]
In China, Myanmar’s generals find an unquestioning friend [The Globe and Mail, September 7, 2010]
China, Myanmar leaders to meet as election draws near [APF, 7 September, 2010]