Myanmar president meets with top Chinese official

AP News
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Posted: Apr 05, 2011 7:29 AM
Myanmar president meets with top Chinese official

A Chinese Communist Party official made the first high-ranking foreign visit with Myanmar's new president since a nominally civilian government took office.

Jia Qinglin, the Communist Party's fourth-highest ranking official, pledged cooperation for political and economic development as he met with newly sworn-in President Thein Sein, the state-run New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported. They met Monday after Jia arrived Saturday for a four-day visit.

China is the main ally of Myanmar, which the West shuns for its poor record on human rights and democracy. Critics claim last November's election perpetuated military rule behind a democratic facade; retired officers and military supporters largely make up the new government.

Members were sworn in March 30 and the junta that had been in power since 1988 dissolved itself. The country has been under military rule since 1962.

Jia praised Myanmar for successfully holding the election, the newspaper reported. He also was quoted as saying that China would cooperate with Myanmar for the stability of their mutual border region and that China opposes any acts that can hinder stability.

The report did not elaborate, but Jia appeared to be sending a message to Myanmar ethnic minority groups along the border with China, which included the ethnic Wa and its 30,000-strong army and the ethnic Kachin with roughly 8,000 fighters that are still resisting the government's proposal to turn their armed groups into border guard forces.

During Jia's visit, Myanmar and China signed an economic cooperation agreement and others pacts.

They included a credit agreement between the Export-Import Bank of China and Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank and a production-sharing contract for copper mining between China's NORINCO and the military's Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd.