Asia-Pacific

China urges support for Burma's general election

Gen Than Shwe
Image caption Gen Than Shwe has ruled Burma since 1992

China has urged the rest of the world to support the Burmese general election in November - an event which is widely seen by Western countries as a sham.

China's foreign ministry said the poll was an "internal matter" for Burma, and China hoped other countries would provide it with "constructive help".

Burma's military leader, Gen Than Shwe, is visiting China, one of Burma's main investors and trading partners.

He is to hold talks with President Hu Jintao and other senior leaders.

Speaking on the first day of Burma's leader's visit, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Jiang Yu, clarified China's position towards the elections in Burma:

"We hope that the international community will provide constructive help for Myanmar's [Burma's] upcoming election and avoid bringing negative effect to bear on Myanmar's political course and regional peace and stability."

The poll is the first since pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) won a landslide victory in 1990.

The military never allowed her party to take power, and it has been disbanded.

Critics say this election will be a sham, because of poll laws which favour the authorities.

Trading partners

Burma's military government is shunned by many countries because of its human rights record.

But China and Burma have built up a strong relationship over recent decades, says the BBC's Michael Bristow in Beijing.

The two countries are major trading partners, and China invests millions of dollars in infrastructure projects in Burma.

Beijing is building two pipelines there - one for oil, the other for natural gas.

These will make it easier to get energy supplies into China.

To protect these investments, Chinese officials will be keen to see a stable Burma - whatever the developments inside the country, our correspondent says.

More on this story