News

    Analysts: New Burmese Parliament to Look Closely at China Relations

    Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi greets supporters as she leaves her National League for Democracy party following her meeting with newly elected lawmakers at the party headquarters in Rangoon, April. 7, 2012.
    Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi greets supporters as she leaves her National League for Democracy party following her meeting with newly elected lawmakers at the party headquarters in Rangoon, April. 7, 2012.

    Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy secured a landslide victory in Burma’s recent elections, and the opposition party will make its parliamentary debut in two weeks. Among the many questions the election results are raising is the possible impact they could have on Burma’s relations with its biggest investor - China.

    China has long been a key ally of the Burmese government and, according to official estimates, has already pumped at least $15 billion in investments into Burma.  

    But, as Burma - which is also known as Myanmar - has begun to enact reforms over the past year, releasing hundreds of political prisoners, holding talks with ethnic minority rebels, and easing censorship, it also appears to be trying to lessen China's influence on its economy.

    "The China relationship was clearly a factor in the military government's decision to move toward democracy, but with Aung San Suu Kyi and sort of an opposition group in parliament, I suspect you'll see a lot more discussion about issues like that," Bower said.

    Ernest Bower is the director of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

    "We know from interviews with Myanmar leaders and the business community that there was a feeling of claustrophobia in the country related to China's dominance," Bower said.

    Analysts say President Thein Sein's decision last year to call off the construction of a major Chinese hydropower project in northern Burma because of local opposition was in part an example of the desire to ease China's influence.

    Originally, the Myitsone Dam was slated for completion in 2017 and was expected to provide energy-hungry cities in China with power to meet their ever-growing demands. Now, the fate of the project remains uncertain.

    David Steinberg, a Burma expert at Georgetown University, says he expects China will continue to play a very important role in Burma's economy, but the Burmese president’s Myitsone Dam decision shows there are limits.

    “I think it’s in China’s interest to play its cards very, very carefully. They didn’t on the Myitsone Dam, but they may have learned a lesson. They really didn’t believe that there was public opinion that could change the government in Myanmar, the government’s position. And they have found out that there was in fact that,” Steinberg said.

    China should also be concerned, Steinberg says, about the impact too much investment in Burma could have on Burmese national sentiment. He says there have been anti-China riots in the past, and foreign control of the economy has long been a sensitive issue there.

    “If they [the Burmese people] feel that the economy is once again under Chinese control, there could be a nationalist reaction. Already there is anti-Chinese sentiment growing in the country, and China recognizes the problem and must be careful,” Steinberg said.

    Meanwhile, Burma is looking elsewhere for investment. In recent weeks, Burma has taken steps to loosen regulations for foreign investors in the country. This, Bower says, will not only increase investment opportunities, but will give Burma more options.  

    "Clearly one of the objectives of the government in opening was to enact economic reforms that would follow the political opening so that countries could bring new technology and capital into the country," Bower said.

    Analysts say Burma is very interested in making sure the United States and Europe are involved in that process and that the participation of ASEAN countries, Japan and Europe is broadened as well. But getting the investment into Burma from the U.S., as well as other countries, remains problematic because of sanctions.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora