23 May 2024

Myanmar’s military leader, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, will not be invited to attend the special virtual ASEAN-China summit, commemorating the 30th anniversary of their relationship, on November 22nd, according to a highly placed source.

Last week, senior ASEAN officials met online, informally, to discuss the situation in Myanmar and who should be invited to the special summit.

The source said that both ASEAN and China agreed to adhere to the decision, adopted by ASEAN on October 15th, to invite only a senior non-official to attend the summit. It marked the first time that the ASEAN leaders chose not to invite a fellow national leader. Myanmar also decided, voluntarily and at the last minute, to skip the meeting.

ASEAN granted China comprehensive strategic partnership status last month, along with Australia, when they attended the recent ASEAN-related summits virtually.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will co-chair the special event with Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. It will be Xi’s first time co-chairing the summit with an ASEAN leader. In previous engagements on ASEAN-China ties, Premier Li Keqiang has represented China. Topping the agenda will be the joint efforts to recover from the negative impacts of COVID-19 and vaccines access.

The summit is scheduled to take place between 9am and 10am on Monday. There will be a joint statement issued after the summit. China began its ties with ASEAN as a dialogue partner in 1991 and quickly expanded its relationship and cooperation with ASEAN. Today, there are 44 committees covering the whole gamut of ASEAN-China relations.

ASEAN has now become the biggest trading partner of China, replacing the EU. Furthermore, China and lower Mekong riparian countries are partners in Lancang-Mekong Cooperation framework.

Myanmar is currently serving as the country coordinator forASEAN-China relations, with its main duty being to set the agenda for cooperation and development between the two sides. The coordinator’s role will run for three years.