Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on June 11, 2015 (AFP)

Beijing, China (AFP) – Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday, state media said, during her closely watched first visit that China hopes will establish a line of communication with the influential opposition leader.

Suu Kyi met with Xi at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, according to the official Xinhua News Agency, which did not immediately provide details on what was discussed.

Beijing was a key backer of Myanmar’s military junta while it was under Western sanctions — most of which have been lifted since 2011 — and a much-needed international ally for a brutal regime that crushed dissent and kept Suu Kyi under house arrest for more than 15 years.

But China-Myanmar relations have cooled as the country has introduced democratic reforms and opened up economically to the West while in recent months an ethnic insurgency in the Kokang region of Myanmar has spilled over the border into China.
The visit comes as Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party is expected to perform strongly in elections later this year and China looks to develop a rapport with the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Suu Kyi arrived in Beijing on Wednesday with an NLD delegation and met later in the evening with  a senior Communist Party official Wang Jiarui, Xinhua reported late Wednesday.