Dong Yunfei, manager of a Chinese state-run copper mine here in the heat-baked center of Myanmar, says his company owes its success to an unlikely ally: Aung San Suu Kyi, the former dissident who is now the country’s de facto leader.
The mine, a symbol of the sort of Chinese links to Myanmar’s brutal former military junta that made it unpopular among the Burmese, was halted by villager protests in 2012. Now, it is yielding its first batches of copper after Mr. Dong’s Wanbao Mining embraced conditions set by a Suu Kyi-led panel for the project to restart, including working closely with the local community.
China is associating itself with Ms. Suu Kyi and her government in the hope that her star power “can help navigate the anti-China sentiment on the ground and sell a stronger relationship with China as a good thing,” said Yun Sun, a senior associate at the Stimson Center think tank in Washington.
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