Myanmar's Suu Kyi to visit China this year: Party

YANGON - Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will make her first official visit to China next month, her party said Tuesday, as the veteran activist reaches out to her country's giant neighbour and powerful ally of the former junta.

TheĀ Nobel laureate, who is planning to lead her party into elections next year seen as the litmus test of Myanmar's transition towards democracy, will travel to China within weeks, her party said.

"It is true that there is a trip planned to China in December," a senior member of her National League for Democracy told AFP, asking to remain unnamed.

He said it was not yet clear who Suu Kyi would be meeting.

The Myanmar politician, who has publicly stated her wish to become president if rules currently barring her from the job are removed, has previously suggested the relationship with Beijing is crucial to her country.

Beijing is a major investor in resource-rich Myanmar and was a key ally of the former ruling generals as the country languished in isolation under the junta.

But it has seen its influence wane as Myanmar's reforms have thrust it into the global spotlight.

Changes, including allowing Suu Kyi and her party into parliament and freeing most political prisoners, have seen Western sanctions largely swept away and caused a wave of international investors to rush to the country.

But projects to tap the nation's abundant natural resources for export to China have sparked particular resentment as the country opens up.

Myanmar's president suspended a Chinese-backed mega-dam in September 2011 after a public outcry.

Suu Kyi drew flak for defending a controversial Chinese-backed copper mine in March 2013, urging local people to drop calls for its closure because it would harm the local and national economy.

"We have to get along with the neighbouring country whether we like it or not," she told angry villagers at the time.

But the 69-year-old politician, who spent a total of 15 years under house arrest during military rule, also risked provoking China's anger when she met the Dalai Lama on the sidelines of a Prague rights conference in September 2013.