BEIJING, April 5 China called on Thursday for
all sanctions on Myanmar to be lifted following Nobel Peace
Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's by-election victory at the
weekend, a poll result it said it hoped would be good for the
"The result was broadly affirmed domestically and by the
international community," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong
Lei, in China's first official comment on Sunday's elections,
which yielded a landslide victory for 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," Hong told a regular news briefing.
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.
"China has noted that some Western countries have said they
will lift sanctions on Myanmar. China has had a consistent
stance on this issue. We welcome moves by these countries to
lift sanctions on Myanmar and call on all parties to fully lift
sanctions on Myanmar as soon as possible."
The United States said on Wednesday it was ready to relax
some sanctions on Myanmar to recognise its fledgling democratic
transition, including a ban on U.S. companies investing in or
offering financial services to the country.
The European Union 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
building a Chinese-funded dam in September. Washington's moves
to re-engage with the once-isolated country are likely to
complicate ties further.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Suu Kyi in
December as Myanmar's new civilian government pledged to forge
ahead with political reforms and re-engage with the world
Clinton's trip followed a decision by U.S. President Barack
Obama to open the door to stronger links, saying he saw the
potential for progress in a country until recently seen as a
reclusive military dictatorship firmly aligned with China.
China has counted on Myanmar as a bulwark against what
Beijing sees as U.S. attempts to surround China. That reliance
could be threatened now Washington has begun contacts with a
Myanmar which is embarking on tentative political
Suu Kyi has tried to reassure China - a strong backer of the
military regime which locked her up - that she does not consider
Beijing an enemy, making remarks to that effect almost
immediately upon being released from house arrest in 2010.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)