China pushes Burma for closer military ties


Pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi addresses hundreds of anxious Burmese supporters from the main gate of her family compound in Rangoon on July 14, 1995.


Manuel Ceneta

China offered to open its arms even wider to Burma Monday, just days before a visit to the impoverished Southeast Asian nation by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping offered to boost its military ties with Burma, saying the two nation's friendship had "endured the test of time through sudden international changes," Reuters reported.

"I hope the militaries of the two countries, hereon, can continue to strengthen exchanges, deepen cooperation and play an active role in pushing forward the development of comprehensive relations," Xi said, according to a statement on the Foreign Ministry's website.

More from GlobalPost: The changing face of Burma

China's offer to Burma, also known as Myanmar, comes after President Obama visited the region and pledged a continued US presence in the area. Obama, in what was seen as a response to China's growing influence in the region, told Asia-Pacific leaders that the United States was "here to stay."

Clinton is expected to visit Burma Wednesday for a three-day trip. It will be the first visit to the country by a US secretary of state in 50 years. It comes amid signs that the country long seen as one of the world's most repressive is beginning to consider opening up.

Clinton's visit is intended to encourage Burma to reform, according to administration officials.

GlobalPost's Kathleen E. McLaughlin wrote from Beijing last week that Clinton's visit to Burma "not only marks a milestone in American foreign policy, but also has the potential to shift regional politics and dislodge China as Burma’s lone ally."

“It’s in China’s interest for Myanmar to end its isolation,” Zhao Daojiong, an international economist at Peking University, told GlobalPost. “An isolated Myanmar is an unstable Myanmar. It’s in China’s interest that Myanmar internationalize and stabilize.”