BEIJING, Tuesday 9 November 2010 (AFP) - China's one-party government applauded the military junta in ally Myanmar on Tuesday for holding a weekend election that has been roundly criticised by the United States and others as a sham.
"This is a critical step for Myanmar in implementing the seven-step road map in the transition to an elected government, and thus is welcome," foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.
He said the election had been carried out in a "steady and smooth manner."
The military junta's political proxy -- the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) -- claimed victory on Tuesday in the country's first election in 20 years, saying it had won about 80 percent of parliamentary seats.
There was no official announcement from the junta or election officials on the vote results, but the USDP had been widely expected to sweep the poll given the severe financial, campaigning and other hurdles facing opposition parties.
With democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi still locked up, opposition leaders reported widespread complaints of intimidation and other irregularities.
"It is unacceptable to steal an election, as the regime in Burma (Myanmar) has done again for all the world to see," US President Barack Obama said in a speech to the Indian parliament on Monday.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called the vote "insufficiently inclusive, participatory and transparent", his spokesman said.
China is a key supplier of arms to Myanmar, its southern neighbour, and a buyer of its natural resources.