China and the Changing Myanmar

Yun SUN

Abstract


The author argues that the democratic reform in Myanmar is rooted in profound internal and external factors. Since the beginning of the reform, the changes in Myanmar have taken tolls in a series of China’s existing interests inside the country. Economically, Chinese investments have come under increasing scrutiny, criticism, and even oppositions, threatening the viability of strategic projects such as the oil and gas pipelines. Politically, the initial success of the democratic reform in Myanmar raises questions about Beijing’s continuous resistance to reform. Strategically, the changes in Myanmar undercut China’s original blueprint about the strategic utilities of Myanmar for China at ASEAN, in the Indian Ocean and more broadly in the region. In light of the changes, China has adjusted its policy toward Myanmar. Not only has Beijing dramatically reduced its economic investments in Myanmar, it also cooled down the political ties while established relations with the democratic oppositions. At the same time, China also launched massive public relations campaigns inside Myanmar aimed at improving its image and relations with the local communities.

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