Kyoto: International Studies Association of Ritsumeikan University
The main thesis of this paper is to argue that Myanmar is neither a strategic pawn nor an economic pivot of China in the short and immediate term. Since 1988, Sino-Myanmar entente is uneven, asymmetrical, but nevertheless reciprocal and mutually beneficial. The strategic entente and economic relations are a marriage of convenience. However, Myanmar’s strategic location on a trijunction between South Asia, Southeast Asia and China is nevertheless economically and strategically significant. Economically, Myanmar is important for China as a trading outlet to the Indian Ocean for its landlocked inland provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan. Strategically, Myanmar is potentially important for China to achieve its strategic presence in the Indian Ocean and its long-term two-ocean objective. Furthermore, a China-Myanmar nexus is strategically useful for China to contain India’s influence in Southeast Asia. Finally, Myanmar is part and parcel of China’s grand strategic design to achieve its goal of becoming a great power in the 21st century. Despite the more extensive growing Chinese influence over Myanmar, it is unlikely that Rangoon will become a strategic satellite base for China. Myanmar’s strong sense of nationalism, its past ability to successfully deal with foreign powers to preserve its independence and cultural identity, will likely make Myanmar withstand most odds.
Ritsumeikan Annual Review of International Studies 1, pp.33-53