China Wants to Retain Burma Ties Amid Western Influence

Posted November 30th, 2011 at 4:25 am (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.

China's state-run Global Times said Wednesday 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.

The report cites Burmese President Thein Sein's decision in September to halt the construction of a $3.6 billion Chinese-backed dam in northern Burma.

The project had sparked protests by environmentalists and local residents, and Western governments welcomed the decision as a sign the government is becoming more responsive to the wishes of its own people.

China said the cancellation has caused massive losses to the company that backed the project, and may be a sign that Burma is showing goodwill to the West at China's expense.

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.