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Myanmar civil society will complicate China relations

Friday, July 29, 2016

Subject

The role of civil society in China-Myanmar relations.

Significance

Myanmar's political transition, following the 2010 and 2015 elections, provides new space and opportunities for civil society, challenging China's long-standing position as the country's most important foreign partner.

Impacts

  • Lack of skills to engage with civil society in Myanmar will jeopardise China's status as an economic and development partner.
  • Civil society in Myanmar could look towards the West, in particular the United States, for support -- not China.
  • Myanmar has strategic potential as a land-based energy supply route that avoids the Malacca Strait.
  • Rapid economic growth will eventually make Myanmar a market for China as well as supplier of resources.
  • Nonetheless, Myanmar's government will not shun China: its support will be useful in the ethnic ceasefire effort.
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