Washington: Myanmar's democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi has said that her country's strategic location between India and China makes it a key stakeholder in the region and the US should take this factor into consideration while developing US-Myanmar ties.
"Because we are situated between China and India, the two biggest powers in Asia, and because we are on the border of South and South-East Asia, our position is unique, and any relationship with Myanmar must take into consideration this situation," Suu Kyi said yesterday in her first public appearance after her US arrival.
Regarding questions raised as to whether the US engagement with Myanmar was aimed at "containing" the influence of China in Asia, she said people "naturally associate" US-China relations with US-Myanmar relations.
"This is a natural question. One that I think cannot be answered simply, because I do not think that any country could claim, either the US, China or Myanmar, that our relations have nothing to do with the relations that we have with other countries around us," the Noble Peace Prize winner said.
US relations with Myanmar should "naturally have some impact" on US relations with China, she said, noting that in a similar way, her country's relations with the US will also "impact on its relations with China" to a certain degree.
She, however, said that Myanmar's growing relationship with US should not be seen as a "hostile step" towards China.
"We can use our new situation to strengthen relations between all three countries. For us, to put it very simply, it would be to our advantage for the US and China to establish friendly relations. This will help us a great deal, and this is what I look forward to," she observed.
Suu Kyi said her country has a good history of preserving friendship with different countries following different ideologies.
"Myanmar was one of the first countries to recognise Communist China back in the 1950s, it also had particularly warm relations with India to its west," she said.
"When we became independent, we were considered the country most likely to succeed in South-East Asia. This is an honour that we have lost over the last few decades, but we think that we can regain this honor with the help of our friends, including the US," she added.
Later, the leader received the Global Vision Award of Asia Society that was announced in 2011.