United Wa State Army leader Bao Youxiang (L) and China's Foreign Ministry's special envoy for Asian Affairs Sun Guoxiang watch a military parade, to commemorate 30 years of a ceasefire signed with the Myanmar military in the Wa State, in Panghsang on April 17, 2019. (AFP)

China special envoy makes unannounced Myanmar visit


China’s special envoy for Asian affairs has wrapped an unannounced, week-long visit to Myanmar that included discussions with its junta leader on the country’s political future, Beijing said on August 31.

Myanmar has been in political chaos since the military ousted the civilian government in February, launching a bloody crackdown on dissent.

International efforts to stem the violence have failed to yield results, with the European Union accusing junta allies Russia and China of blocking efforts at the UN Security Council to impose an arms embargo.

Special envoy Sun Guoxiang met junta leader Min Aung Hlaing and “exchanged views… on the political landscape in Myanmar,” according to a statement released by Beijing’s embassy in Myanmar.

China supports “Myanmar’s efforts to restore social stability and resume democratic transformation at an early date,” it said.

The statement on Sun’s August 21-28 visit did not mention any meeting with the parallel government, who insist they are Myanmar’s legitimate authority.

Beijing enjoys exceptional leverage over Myanmar, and has so far refused to label the military action a coup.

Sun played a role in previous peace talks between Myanmar’s military and myriad ethnic groups — some of whom Beijing maintains alliances with, analysts say.

Myanmar is also a vital piece of Beijing’s huge Belt and Road infrastructure initiative.

Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the country and promised to support the Myanmar government on a development path “suited to its own national conditions”.

Chinese state media on Tuesday reported the successful completion of a test journey carrying cargo along a new sea-road-rail passage linking southwest China to the Indian Ocean through Myanmar.

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