Myanmar in Contemporary Chinese Foreign Policy – Strengthening Common Ground, Managing Differences

Robert Sutter

Abstract


This assessment first briefly examines recent features of China’s approach to foreign affairs, and then examines in greater detail features in China’s approach to relations with its neighbours, especially in Southeast Asia. It does so in order to discern prevailing patterns in Chinese foreign relations and to determine in the review of salient recent China–Myanmar developments in the concluding section how China’s approach to Myanmar compares with Chinese relations with other regional countries and more broadly. The assessment shows that the strengths and weaknesses of China’s recent relations with Myanmar are more or less consistent with the strengths and weaknesses of China’s broader approach to Southeast Asia and international affairs more generally. On the one hand, China’s approach to Myanmar, like its approach to most of the states around its periphery, has witnessed significant advances and growing interdependence in the post-Cold War period. On the other hand, mutual suspicions stemming from negative historical experiences and salient differences require attentive management by Chinese officials and appear unlikely to fade soon.

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