Aung San Suu Kyi to visit China

Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi addresses supporters during a rally at Mawlamyaing, Mon State on May 16, 2015. Image copyright AFP/Getty Images

Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's opposition leader, is to visit China for the first time at a time of tension between the two countries.

Ms Suu Kyi will start the four-day visit on Wednesday, her National League for Democracy (NLD) party said.

An NLD spokesman said she would meet China's President Xi Jinping, and Premier Li Keqiang.

Relations between the countries have cooled in recent years, partly because of violence near their mutual border.

Myanmar has been fighting rebels in its eastern Kokang region, which borders China's Yunnan province.

At least five people in Yunnan died in March when an aircraft from Myanmar, also known as Burma, dropped a bomb on a sugar cane field.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Rebels have been fighting in Myanmar's Kokang region, near the border with China

China sent patrols to the border in response.

While Myanmar's military junta was under Western sanctions, and Ms Suu Kyi was under house arrest, China remained a loyal ally.

But since reforms were introduced in 2011, the government of President Thein Sein has allied itself closely with the United States, although China continues to help develop major infrastructure projects in Myanmar.

As head of the NLD, Ms Suu Kyi is expected to play a key role in Myanmar's presidential elections this November, although she is unlikely to be able to stand for president.

She is fighting to overturn a clause in the constitution that currently blocks her from standing as a candidate.

Analysis - Jonah Fisher, BBC News, Yangon

Inviting Ms Suu Kyi is an acknowledgement by the Chinese that, after the Burmese general election later this year, she's likely to be a political force they can no longer ignore.

The trip will also pose a moral dilemma for the Burmese opposition leader.

Just like Ms Suu Kyi two decades ago, Chinese writer Liu Xiabo has been detained for his pro-democracy activities - and then, like her, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Will Ms Suu Kyi say anything while in China about her fellow Nobel laureate? Or will she choose to remain silent to avoid embarrassing her hosts?

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