Wed 30 Jan 2013
Filed under: Opinion,Regional
(unofficial translation)Myanmar should know itself
Myanmar on a path of reform has become an international star. China is gratified with Myanmar’s trend of reform, the start of its democratic process and the improvement of its international environment because these are in line with the trend of the international community, with the basic direction of China’s Myanmar policy and with China’s long term interests.
There are always some people in the international community passionate about pitting the ongoing changes in Myanmar and China’s interests/wishes against each other, depicting China as the guardian of the junta who undercuts the reform and exploits Myanmar’s natural resources. Such a line deceives, entices and instigates many people ignorant of the truth in and outside Myanmar.
The reality is that for many years China maintained a constructive relationship with the Myanmar governments, supporting them to develop the economy and improve people’s lives. China encouraged them to adopt a moderate reform path, properly resolve their problems with the oppositions and local armed forces through dialogue, gradually achieve political reconciliation, national reconciliation and to integrate into ASEAN. China also keeps contact with all parties of the society, including Aung San Suu Kyi, to win their basic understanding and respect of China’s policy towards Myanmar.
There might be certain problems in the implementation of the economic and trade projects in which China invests, builds and operates. But in general, they have followed the cooperation model of being mutually beneficial and win-win, taking into consideration China’s own interests, Myanmar’s national development planning as well as the needs of its people. Some western media take only part of the story and spread rumors that ignore basic facts. For example, they propagate the idea that the China-build Myitsone dam will only transmit power back to China after its completion, that the Letpadaung Copper Mine severely damages the environment, that the Sino-Myanmar pipeline is China’s strategic conspiracy, and even that these projects are the result of Chinese companies’ bribery of the junta.
Western countries including the U.S. had long followed a policy of hostility, isolation and blockade of Myanmar. They even stopped their contact with the junta, and sometimes asked China to exercise influence over the junta and to convey their messages. Countries like U.S. often communicated with China on regional issues including Myanmar. They recognized that China’s policy toward Myanmar was reasonable and effective.
It was China’s encouragement and support that prevented the country from falling into serious civil war and saved their people from humanitarian disasters, which created the condition for the eventual reform process. The rationality of China’s logic on Myanmar has been proven by the facts. The “China window” has shed the light of reasonableness and calmness onto the solution of the Myanmar problem under the western sanctions. For some people in the West to gloat and see the changes in Myanmar as their achievement is despicable.
The exaltation of these people has evolved into a strategic competition targeted at China. They try their best to entice Myanmar, elevating the country from an international outcast into the dot connecting the sea and land components of the containment circle of China by the U.S. and Japan. Myanmar in their eyes has become the potential strategic partner to contain China, one that is only secondary to Vietnam in terms of significance. Some other people could not wait to dream about the “beautiful vision” of Myanmar returning to the arms of the West after Aung San Suu Kyi takes over and about a complete ouster of China’s influence in Myanmar. They loudly blow the horn of “new cold war”, but might just fall in the strategic trap they themselves dig.
First, China is Myanmar’s important neighbor and its geopolitical influence over Myanmar is irreplaceable. If the U.S. and Japan must conspire in a “strategic project” against China in Myanmar, they might eventually find themselves incapable and underequipped to compete with China in many areas.
Second, China was never afraid of the democratic process in Myanmar, but will benefit from it. Myanmar’s democratization is linked to the economic revitalization, national reconciliation and religious prosperity. Eventually, it will add to the stability and prosperity of China’s periphery. The West will in the end see that President Thein Sein is not a Myanmar Gorbachev, that Aung San Suu Kui is not a Myanmar Havel and China is certainly not another Soviet Union.
Third, China and Myanmar enjoy a long and deep fraternal friendship. This is based on the numerous cultural, religious and geographic connections between the two. It transcends the political ups and downs in the different historical stages of the two countries and has become a common tradition illuminating the future of their bilateral relations.
Fourth, no one knows it better than China that under the humble appearance of the Burmese people is a flexible and proud heart. This applies to the past rulers, to the current regime under transition, and to the Aung San family. This national temperament is determined by Myanmar’s ancient history of being the superpower for a long time on the Indo-China Peninsula, its recent history of being the victim of colonialism, the joint influence of Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as its special location at the intersection of two oceans and two continents. No matter what changes internally, the future foreign policy of Myanmar will always be a diversified approach with ASEAN as a foundation, a reliance on China in the north, and an outlook on India in the west. Myanmar will not lose its focus.
“Myanmar will not choose between China and U.S.” said a Burmese who might decide the country’s future. China will not force Myanmar to make a choice. Neither will the U.S. The only one who wishes to see this happen might be Japan’s Abe. They are recently taking major actions in Myanmar to turn the competition with China for Myanmar into reality. They miscalculated the situation and overestimated themselves.
Faced with the seemingly complicated situation in Myanmar and the seemingly earnest “strategic offensive” by some in the West, China has a solid foundation. China will take actions. It certainly must take necessary actions to protect the fruits of Sino-Myanmar cooperation and stick to the investment in Myanmar that aims at improving the lives of peoples on both sides of the border. China will not turn blind or deaf towards the slander. It certainly will raise its voice to show the Myanmar people and the world the true face of China’s policy toward Myanmar and its investment there. China will lose itself and rush into actions. It certainly will not jump in the vicious competitive labyrinth designed by some people in the West. Instead, with tolerance, China will discuss with the reform and development partners in Myanmar how to collaborate to assist the country to further its march on the positive development track.
The challenge for China will be to position itself in the seemingly turbulent geopolitical rapids of Myanmar. We hope the Myanmar people who are working together to shape the country’s future will keep a clear head and correctly understand the reality for Myanmar to focus on taking good care of its own business. They’d better not be like their Philippino brothers who lost themselves and ended up as third-tier partners at others’ beck and call, a scorned strategic beggar of the international community.
Meanwhile, it is the responsibility of the Myanmar government to clarify the importance of Sino-Myanmar cooperation to its own people and clear up the lies so as to work with China to push for the smooth implementation of normal bilateral cooperative projects. The Myanmar government is also responsible for properly resolving the ethnic conflicts close to the border and avoiding negative effects to the interests and safety of Chinese people.