Chinese navy ships visit Myanmar for joint exercises
Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi talks to Chinese President Xi Jinping as they meet at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, May 16, 2017. Reuters

China's defense ministry said on Saturday that the country's navy ships are visiting Myanmar and will conduct communications, search and rescue, and other joint exercises with the Myanmar navy.

A spokesman Wu Qian said in remarks posted on the ministry's website that the ships arrived in Yangon on Thursday for a four-day visit. Wu added that China was willing to strengthen strategic communication and deepen cooperation with Myanmar. However, it is making joint efforts to safeguard regional peace and stability and promote bilateral ties.

The ship visit started the day China and Asean agreed to a framework for a long-mooted code of conduct for the disputed South China Sea.

This move comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping met Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who serves as Myanmar's foreign minister while also being de facto head of its civilian government, in Beijing earlier this week following China's Belt and Road Forum.

China had a close relationship with Myanmar's former military-run government. It has carefully watched the democratisation process in its strategically located southern neighbour.