|Illustration: Liu Rui|
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Myanmar, starting today, will further unnerve China, which has recently been increasingly worried that the aim of the new US Asian policy is to isolate and encircle China.
Historically and geographically, Myanmar has been a close neighbor to China. For centuries, the two countries have enjoyed a family tie known as "pauk-phaw (brotherhood)" in Myanmese because of intermarriage between border inhabitants.China's former premier Zhou Enlai visited Myanmar nine times while his counterpart, Myanmar leader Ne Win visited China 12 times. During Zhou's first visit to Myanmar in 1954, the two countries stressed the five principles of peaceful coexistence in international relations. The five principles are still the foundation of China's handling of international relations today.
For centuries, the two peoples have traveled freely across the border on dirt roads and forested mountains. Chinese late foreign minister Marshal Chen Yi composed a poem which reads, "I (China) am upstream and you (Myanmar) are downstream. We share water from the same river with friendship."
Today, Myanmar is the pivot of China's grand strategy to achieve its economic growth goal.
The development of Western China depends on a secured shorter trade and fuel routes to the ocean. Close to the key shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia, Myanmar is important for China to develop its southwestern inland provinces, which have a population of about 200 million people.