The NLD and Myanmar’s Foreign Policy: Not New, But Different

Maung Aung Myoe


This article argues that although the NLD government continues to adhere to the “independent, active, and non-aligned foreign policy,” the policy will be implemented through multiple tracks in diplomacy with a possibility of stronger focus on people-to-people contacts and multilateralism. The NLD’s foreign policy, in terms of objectives and principles, is not new but it is different, as adjustments are made in the realm of diplomacy. The reasons for this lack of foreign policy change or transformation are that (1) the predecessor USDP government has more or less adjusted the country’s foreign policy, (2) the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Armed Forces) continues to exercise strong influence over the foreign policy process, (3) the emerging geopolitical environment in the Asia-Pacific region shapes the country’s foreign policy choices, and (4) the NLD’s leadership style and political mandate provide little room for public access and input in foreign policy decision-making. It is expected that activism in Myanmar’s foreign policy will be once again centre stage, with more dynamic diplomacy being conducted through multiple tracks under the NLD government. Aung San Suu Kyi’s fame and global influence is perhaps the most important asset and driving force behind Myanmar’s return to the world of international diplomacy. Myanmar’s foreign policy under the NLD government, while retaining the survival and security of the state at its core, will not aim for the narrow interest of regime survival, but instead for the best interests of both state and society in Myanmar.

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