Despite being heavily criticized by the Western media over the Rohingya issue, Myanmar State Counselor and former Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has gained popularity with Chinese netizens, who praised her defiance against "outside pressure while safeguarding her people's interest."
Suu Kyi had long been seen as a proxy of the West by nationalistic Chinese netizens due to her close relationship to the Western countries, but she has won cheers recently from the Chinese online communities who are routinely indignant over Western pressure on developing countries over issues concerning national security.
On news portals like guancha.cn and ifeng.com, Net users heap praise on Suu Kyi, calling her "a stateswoman who serves her people's interest" and "a tough and wise woman who knows much better than Western politicians who make political correctness a business."
In spite of heated online discussions about Suu Kyi, her name could not be searched on Sina Weibo. The Chinese public's concern about domestic Islamic extremism has apparently made the crisis in Myanmar a sensitive topic.
As Suu Kyi's reputation among Chinese Net users improves, the Western media, which had gone out of its way to shape her image, have been harshly criticizing her and the Myanmar government.
"Nearly 400,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh to escape a military offensive that has been described as ethnic cleansing, and raised fears of an unfolding humanitarian crisis," Reuters reported on Friday. The New York Times even suggested that she be "stripped of her Nobel Prize."
"Chinese people shared some concern on religious extremism with Myanmar, so their attitude toward Suu Kyi is also their attitude toward the Myanmar people. Suu Kyi is trying to be a pragmatic stateswoman, not a Westernized liberal idealist, so she will follow her own instincts despite heavy criticism," said Liu Yun, an analyst on Myanmar issues based in Hunan Province.
Another reason for Suu Kyi's rising popularity is her friendly policy on China which many did not expect. And since she has visited China twice, Chinese leaders might visit Myanmar in the near future, so the Chinese people and the government don't want to damage bilateral ties, Liu added.
"China condemns the violent attacks in Rakhine state, supports Myanmar's efforts to safeguard its peace and stability and sincerely hopes that the Rakhine state can restore stability as soon as possible," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said at Tuesday's press conference in Beijing.
"The international community should support the efforts made by Myanmar to maintain national development and stability and create enabling external conditions for the proper settlement of the Rakhine state issue," Geng said.
Courtesy Global Times