- Title: MYANMAR: Aung San Suu Kyi brings by-election campaign to border town with China
- Date: 18th March 2012
- Summary: CROWD WAVING NLD FLAGS AHEAD OF SUU KYI SPEECH
- Embargoed: 2nd April 2012 13:00
- Location: Myanmar, Myanmar
- Country: Myanmar
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA9Z2LJK35U0FUI8LVP7I49C8Z6
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Shan women in traditional Chinese ethnic dresses danced in celebration outside Myanmar's Lashio airport on Saturday (March 17) to welcome long awaited opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Huge crowds gathered and chanted in support of "Mother Suu", a welcome the democracy hero has received in many towns on her campaign trail ahead of by-elections in April.
Tens of thousands gathered to hear Suu Kyi speak in the major northern Shan state town on the border with China.
Dressed in traditional Shan costume, Suu Kyi told the crowd containing Burmese, Shan and Chinese supporters that she would listen to the voices of Myanmar's ethnic minorities.
"Since our country is a union, including many different ethnic groups, whatever problems we solve we have to think about every ethnic group's needs and hopes. Then we can solve them well," she said.
It was a message warmly welcomed by ethnic Shan in the crowd like 50-year-old U Shwe Win.
"The entire people support her because she will stand in front of the people without discrimination," he said.
While Shan state is the scene of conflict between Myanmar's government and armed ethnic groups, its major towns such as Mongla, Kiangton and this Lashio, have also been strongly economically influenced by southern Chinese states for the past decade.
Suu Kyi emphasised the need for diplomatic, cultural and financial ties with her country's northern neighbour.
"Our country and China have been neighbours since long, long ago. We had a good relationship between our two countries and problems were very tiny. We need understanding between two countries for this. We want a relationship with mutual understanding on both sides. We are going to establish a relationship which does not disadvantage people on either side," she told the crowd.
Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD) party ended its political boycott in November after accepting an olive branch from President Thein Sein, a former general in the junta that sidelined the NLD for years and imprisoned many of its members.
The by-elections are a critical test of the year-old government's commitment to reforms and if deemed fair, could lead to an easing of Western sanctions.
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