Myanmar and China
China Makes Another Push In Myanmar

Myanmar could be the Obama administration’s greatest geopolitical success story in Asia. A country that leaned heavily in China’s direction eight years ago now stands straighter, and arguably leans away from Beijing.

Needless to say, China has been working hard to regain its influence. Reuters reports:

China’s military wants to strengthen ties with neighboring Myanmar by having more exchanges and greater cooperation, a top officer told Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a visit to the Southeast Asian country, state media said on Saturday.

China has been on a diplomatic offensive ever since the Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s government came to power in April, aiming to forge good ties with its resource-rich neighbor.

Last month Suu Kyi visited China, where President Xi Jinping told her he wanted to ensure the “correct direction” of relations.

It’s no coincidence that China is looking to expand military cooperation, in particular. Myanmar’s military has been involved in quashing rebellions that occasionally spill over into China, and it also contains the strongest pro-China elements. Democratization is a messy process, and Myanmar itself has vulnerabilities that could see its progress get rolled back. For example, if the Muslim Rohingya, or any of Myanmar’s other sizable ethnic minorities, get too restless, it’s still quite possible that the military would step in and short-circuit Suu Kyi’s efforts. Having a strong backer in China only makes such a move more likely.
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