Aung San Suu Kyi
Burmese pro democracy leader and Nobel Peace prize winner. A renowned advocate of non-violence and human rights who spent many years under house arrest.
Opposition asks Beijing to prod junta into accepting world's help
Exiled Myanmese opposition leaders this week renewed contacts with China, urging that Beijing push Myanmar's ruling junta to allow full-scale international efforts to ease a worsening humanitarian crisis.
Nyo Ohn Myint, leader of the exile operations in Thailand for the National League for Democracy (NLD), said his group had started fresh talks with Beijing to try to force action.
'We know the Chinese leadership can play a very important role and we have requested that they consider some sort of mediation role between the generals and the international community to solve this crisis,' he said from the group's base on the Thai-Myanmar border.
'Each day counts as more people die ... China is in a unique position to push the regime leadership.'
The NLD is estimating that more than 200,000 could be already dead in the wake of Cyclone Nargis - a figure which they warn could more than double as continued inaction sees widespread disease, starvation and thirst across the Irrawaddy Delta.
Bloated corpses still choke flooded towns and villages cut off from the initial trickle of aid, with Myanmar's generals blocking visas for international aid workers vital to widespread relief efforts.
Nyo Ohn Myint said he believed the crisis would further weaken the junta's grip on power and demanded more intensive discussions between the NLD and Beijing in the months ahead. 'This crisis is showing just how little they care for the people in the most basic way ... this cannot be sustained.'
Beijing has this week publicly urged the junta to accept international aid efforts but, together with Russia, Vietnam and South Africa, has blocked a French push for a UN Security Council attempt to force them to do so.
Nyo Ohn Myint said he believed it was vital for China to work with the international community in its aid efforts, saying he believed Beijing did not want to stand alone in case it was seen as propping up an increasingly unpalatable regime.
His comments are a window into the discreet informal ties between Myanmar's opposition and Beijing - links forged during September's protests against military rule, the biggest uprising since the generals crushed the victorious democracy movement led by the NLD after elections in 1990.
Beijing is widely believed to be a key ally of the generals, reflecting the strategic importance of Myanmar's link between the Chinese border and the Indian Ocean. It also has close ties with other regional powers, including Russia and neighbouring India.
Nyo Ohn Myint said the NLD valued the full and frank informal dialogue with Beijing. It had regular, unofficial contacts with Chinese envoys, and had also sent representatives to China for talks this year.
Beijing had made clear to his group that it believed the regime could maintain its power. It also warned that it did not want Myanmar to degenerate into another international crisis which could damage China's image in the Olympic year.
Chinese officials were still wary of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi's strong links to the west, he said. Ms Suu Kyi, who led the NLD to victory in the 1988 elections, remains under house arrest in a Yangon villa.
'We have constantly stressed to China that a future, free Burma poses no threat to Beijing and, in fact, quite the reverse,' Nyo Ohn Myint said.
'We would be neutral and seek to be friends to all ...we see a great role for our large neighbour in helping the country develop, and there would be great opportunities for investors helping us rebuilding our infrastructure. An open and free Burma would represent a great opportunity for China ... opportunities they will never get with the generals in power.
'That can only ever be a limited thing.'