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China calls on Myanmar junta to hold talks with opponents

A demonstrator holds a poster of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi at a protest last year in Yangon against the Myanmar military coup. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

China’s foreign minister has called for Myanmar’s junta to hold talks with its opponents, during his first visit to the country since the 2021 coup that plunged it into turmoil.

Beijing is one of the Myanmar military’s few international allies, supplying arms and refusing to label the power grab that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi’s government a coup.

Wang Yi, the foreign minister, said China expected all parties in Myanmar to “adhere to rational consultation” and “strive to achieve political reconciliation”.

Wang also told his counterpart, Wunna Maung Lwin, that “China sincerely hopes that Myanmar will be politically and socially stable”, according to a statement on the foreign ministry’s website.

In Beijing’s highest-profile visit to Myanmar since the coup, Wang is attending a foreign ministers’ meeting with representatives from Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

His comments follow a junta spokesperson indicating last week that talks between the military and ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi to resolve the chaos were “not impossible”.

Myanmar’s spiralling civil violence has sparked concern from its neighbours, with a regional envoy visiting to try to kickstart talks between the army and its opponents.

And with western governments imposing sanctions after the coup and a violent crackdown on dissent, the isolated junta has turned increasingly to allies including China and Russia.

In May, a powerful Myanmar ethnic rebel group with close ties to China called for the junta to engage in dialogue with the opposition to end the escalating violence, which has seen Chinese business interests attacked.

Beijing said in April it would help safeguard Myanmar’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity “no matter how the situation changes”.

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