China yesterday called for all sanctions on Myanmar to be lifted following Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s by-election victory over the weekend, a poll result it said it hoped would be good for the country’s stability.
“The result was broadly affirmed domestically and by the international community,” -Chinese -foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei (洪磊) said, in China’s first official comment on Sunday’s elections, which yielded a landslide victory for Aung San Suu Kyi’s party. “China hopes that this by-election will be conducive to pushing Myanmar’s political reconciliation process, and Myanmar’s stability and development.”
While sanctions have blocked Western investments, China has become Myanmar’s biggest ally, investing in infrastructure, hydropower dams and twin oil-and-gas pipelines to help feed southern China’s growing energy needs.
The US said on Wednesday it was ready to relax some sanctions on Myanmar to recognize its fledgling democratic transition, including a ban on US companies investing in or offering financial services to the country.
The EU may also lift some sanctions, but will maintain pressure for the release of remaining political prisoners, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.
Beijing has long been Myanmar’s closest partner, but relations have been strained since the former Burma suspended the construction of a Chinese-funded dam in September last year. Washington’s moves to re-engage with the once-isolated country are likely to complicate ties further.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met Aung San Suu Kyi in December last year as Myanmar’s new civilian government pledged to forge ahead with political reforms and re-engage with the international community.