China’s foreign minister meets junta chief in Myanmar

Bangkok, May 3 (EFE).- China’s foreign minister and the head of Myanmar’s military junta have met in Naypyitaw to discuss the crisis in the country set off by the February 2021 coup, marking the highest-level meeting between Beijing and the junta since then.

At the meeting on Tuesday afternoon with General Min Aung Hlaing, China’s Foreign Minister Qin Gang called for “a process of political transition” in search of “national reconciliation” in the Southeast Asian country, the Chinese and Myanmar authorities reported Wednesday.

China, arms supplier and one of the only allies to the isolated military regime and which has not condemned the coup, demanded that the “international community should respect Myanmar’s sovereignty and play a constructive role in helping Myanmar achieve peace and reconciliation,” according to state news agency Xinhua.

Myanmar’s junta highlighted in a statement that Qin’s visit is a sign of the “friendship” between the two nations in which, in addition to the political situation, they discussed trade, energy, development and investment.

Qin, who also met junta foreign minister Than Swe, is scheduled to stay in the country until Thursday, when he will head for India.

His predecessor, Wang Yi, was in Myanmar last July on a more low-profile trip, and did not meet Min Aung Hlaing.

Before the visit, Qin traveled to the Myanmar border area in southwest China’s Yunnan province on Tuesday, where he urged the maintaining of stability and security on the border, the Chinese public broadcaster CGTN said.

China, Myanmar’s largest trading partner, has 2,129 kilometers of shared border and multiple projects in the neighboring country, from which gas and oil and numerous raw materials are supplied.

Qin’s visit coincides with an escalation of violence in Myanmar, where an army bombing of an opposition office opening on Apr. 11 killed at least 168 people, including 40 children, the bloodiest attack on record since the coup.

Beijing has strengthened its contact with Naypyitaw since at the end of the year when it appointed a new special envoy for Myanmar, Deng Xijun, who has met the coup leaders there at least twice in the past months and has led meetings in Yunnan with ethnic guerrillas to promote a peace agreement with the military regime.

The coup has exacerbated the decades-long conflict between the military and various ethnic guerrillas, causing the creation of new civilian militias opposed to the military. EFE


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