By THE IRRAWADDY
A state-run Chinese TV station in Yunnan Province broadcast news on Wednesday concerning detained democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
According to sources in Ruili on the Sino-Burmese border, the news program stated that the Geneva-based UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had declared that the ongoing house arrest of the Nobel Prize laureate was illegal and contrary to the domestic law of Burma.
It is rare to see Suu Kyi’s picture or hear mention of her name in the Chinese media as Beijing has long been a strong supporter of the Burmese junta.
Burma observers have suggested that the apparent recognition of the Burmese opposition leader by a Chinese network could signal a cooling in Beijing’s support for the Burmese junta.
The broadcast came just days after the visit of a high-level US diplomat to Burma. Observers said that amid signs of a shifting US approach toward the military rulers, China might be worried that the US will influence the Burmese regime and may be looking to intimidate the junta by winning favor with the opposition.
During his four-day visit to Burma, Stephen Blake, director of the State Department's Mainland Southeast Asia Office, held talks with senior members of the opposition National League for Democracy, which is led by Suu Kyi.
Suu Kyi is being held under the terms of Burma’s State Protection Act of 1975, which provides for detention for up to five years to persons judged to pose a threat to the sovereignty and security of the state and the peace of the people. Suu Kyi already served that sentence, but it was extended for a further 12 months. Her current detention is due to expire on May 24.