Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, February 25th, 2020

China’s Xi Turns to Myanmar as He Pushes for ‘Belt and Road’ Plan

China’s Xi Turns to Myanmar as He Pushes  for ‘Belt and Road’ Plan

YANGON, Myanmar - Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in Myanmar on Friday on his first trip to the country since 2009 and is expected to step up investment in the Southeast Asian nation including in the conflict-racked state of Rakhine, a key link in China's Belt and Road initiative.
Myanmar's Deputy Minister of Commerce Aung Htoo told reporters before the visit that Xi would sign agreements related to the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone and $1.3bn port in Rakhine, where a brutal military crackdown in 2017 led hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to flee over the border to Bangladesh.
"Xi has visited almost all ASEAN countries since assuming power in 2013, but Myanmar had been left out until now," Yun Sun, director of the China programme at the Stimson Center, said in an email to Al Jazeera.
During his two-day visit, Xi is scheduled to meet President Win Myint, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing in the capital Naypyidaw.
When the National League of Democracy under Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi swept into power in 2015, there was an expectation around the world that it would mark a new age of human rights and democracy in a country that had spent decades under military rule.
But despite the intense criticism by many Western countries on its handling of the Rohingya crisis, China has been able to rebuild its influence with its southern neighbour, analysts said.
Sun said the fallout over the Rohingya crisis and Myanmar's current isolation in the international community, had given China an opportunity to win Myanmar over through a "gesture of support".
"The trip would not happen without the Chinese side being certain about the direction of the bilateral relations going in a positive direction. In other words, the Chinese are confident that China has regained its damaged influence and repaired its tarnished image in the country," Sun said. (aljazeera)