Myanmar Pivots Uneasily Away From China

Amid China’s mediation of Myanmar’s civil war and the suspension of the Myitsone Dam, The Los Angeles Times reports that Myanmar seems unable to pull away from China’s reach:

In reality, though, anti-China sentiment had been building for years, say foreign academics, Yangon businessmen and former military officials. That apprehension grew even within the nation’s armed forces, where officers believed , also known as Burma, was being exploited by its giant neighbor.

As Myanmar becomes increasingly open, public protests have heightened over China’s role in its affairs. “The Chinese are still in a state of shock,” said Thuta Aung, head of Hamsa Hub, a business development firm in Yangon, also known as Rangoon. “In the past, they’d partner with the [Myanmar] military and do whatever they wanted as long as they put money under the table. Now villagers have more voice.”

Yet even as Myanmar rebalances its foreign policy, it’s unlikely to fully snub Beijing given China’s proximity, growing international clout and the nations’ historical relationship, analysts said. Though the Myitsone development was suspended, for instance, it wasn’t canceled, and numerous other Chinese oil, gas, pipeline and resource projects continue apace.

“The Burmese are very keen to get out of the embrace of the Chinese,” said Morten Pedersen, a senior lecturer with the Australian Defense Force Academy. “Myanmar was angry with the sanctions, but it was never anti-Western. They have a traditional view of autonomy and saw they were losing that.”

Read more about China’s relationship with Myanmar, via CDT.

March 24, 2013, 9:35 AM
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