Myanmar’s reclusive leader, General Than Shwe, arrives in China on Tuesday for a five-day state visit ahead of elections on Nov. 7, at which the ruling junta’s civilian proxies are expected to score a resounding victory.

Here are five facts about the complex relationship between China and Myanmar:

*In 1949, Burma, as Myanmar was then known, was one of the first countries to recognise the People’s Republic of China. But relations soured in the 1960s following anti-Chinese riots in Rangoon (now called Yangon).

* Following a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in 1988, the West imposed broad sanctions on Myanmar. China stepped into the void, providing aid and weapons and ramping up trade.

Beijing has continued to provide broad diplomatic support for Myanmar’s military government, though the ruling generals remain wary of their powerful northern neighbour.

* China has pumped $8.17 billion into Myanmar in the current fiscal year, accounting for two-thirds of its total investment over the past two decades, Myanmar’s state media reported last month. [ID:nSGE67F0BL]

Energy projects formed the bulk of the investment, with $5 billion in hydropower and $2.15 billion in the oil and gas sector of the resource-rich nation. However, analysts say official investment data for Myanmar is notoriously unreliable.

Bilateral trade grew by more than one-quarter in 2008 to about $2.63 billion, according to Chinese figures. Chinese firms are also heavily involved in logging in Myanmar.

* Myanmar gives China access to the Indian Ocean, not only for imports of oil and gas and exports from landlocked southwestern Chinese provinces, but also potentially for military bases or listening posts. Two Chinese warships made a port call in Myanmar last month, the Chinese navy’s first visit to the country.

In October, China’s state energy group CNPC started building a crude oil port in Myanmar, part of a pipeline project aimed at cutting out the long detour oil cargoes take through the congested and strategically vulnerable Malacca Strait. [ID:nTOE60D08W] [ID:nTOE67P06B]

* The relationship has had rocky patches of late. In August 2009, refugees flooded across into China following fighting on the Myanmar side of the border between rebels and government troops, angering Beijing. Myanmar has since promised to maintain stability on the border. [ID:nTOE65206V]

In 2007, China’s Foreign Ministry published an unflattering account of Myanmar’s new jungle capital Naypyitaw, expressing surprise that the poor country would consider such an expensive move without first telling its supposed Chinese friends. (Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ron Popeski)