Burma's New Leader Visits China to Foster Economic Ties

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Burma's new leader has wrapped up a three-day visit to China. Burma is subject to wide-ranging economic sanctions by the U.S. and Europe—which have criticized its human rights record, and called its recent elections a sham. But Burma has strong ties with China. Here's more on the visit.

Burmese leader Thein Sein (PRON: Ten Sen) arrived in Beijing for a three-day visit on Friday. The aim: to strengthen economic ties with China.

[Jiang Yu, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman]: (female, Chinese)
"We hope this visit will boost China and Burma's neighborly friendship and cooperation, advance our bilateral relationship, and promote cooperation across the board."

During his visit, Thein Sein met with the Chinese leader Hu Jintao. The two leaders signed nine trade agreements worth about three-quarters of a billion U.S. dollars.

Trade relations between China and Burma are already flourishing. According to a Voice of America report, China is Burma's leading foreign investor and its second biggest trade partner.

China's investment in Burma last year was $12.3 billion dollars, according to Chinese figures.

Most of the funds went to the construction of twin pipelines that will carry oil and gas from Burma to southern China.

Besides the trade talks, Burma's internal affairs—fighting between Burmese opposition groups and the Burmese military—could also be on the visit's agenda.

Burmese leader Thein Sein is seen as a loyalist of former junta leader Than Shwe. Sein had been the number four-man in the junta. And many critics say the military junta is still in control of the now-supposedly civilian government.