China Wants to Retain Burma Ties Amid Western Influence

Posted November 30th, 2011 at 1:40 pm (UTC-5)
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China says it is open to Burma seeking closer ties with the West, but not at the expense of Beijing's interests.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman (Hong Lei) said Wednesday Beijing welcomes Burma's moves to enhance contact and improve relations with Western nations.

But China's state-run newspaper Global Times, known for its nationalist stance, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's trip to Burma raises speculation that the United States is trying to persuade the Chinese neighbor to align itself with the U.S. instead of China. In an editorial published Wednesday, the paper said China will not accept this while seeing its interests “stamped on.”

Monique Skidmore, a Burma analyst at the Australian National University, told VOA Wednesday increased American or Western influence in Burma will be a threat to Chinese political, geopolitical and economic interests throughout Asia.

She said Washington's suggestion that sanctions against Burma could be lifted if it continues to progress democratically adds to China's worry about its relationship with Burma.

China has been a longtime supporter of Burma's leaders, both the current nominally civilian government and the military rule it replaced earlier this year.