From October 16 to 18, on the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Myanmar’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi went to Goa to attend the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation summit and paid an official visit to New Delhi. Suu Kyi’s visit to India will effectively promote cooperation between India and Myanmar in political, economic and other fields.

Myanmar has realized its special position between China and India, having a 2,200-kilometer border with China and 1,600-kilometer one with India. Therefore, when seeking cooperation with the two countries, Myanmar is fond of gaining the maximum benefits and maintaining its independence.

Suu Kyi as a pragmatic politician has realized that stronger cooperation with India can lower Myanmar’s over-dependence on China and realize Myanmar’s diversified development in economy and society. The Myanmar government has taken the initiative in expressing friendship to New Delhi, a move also pushed by the long isolation from the international community and its urgent need for positive interaction with its neighbors. Asia’s third-largest economy, India is an important partner for Myanmar’s efforts to promote political transition and economic and social development.

According to Myanmar’s official data, the direct investment of India in Myanmar reached $ 732 million by July 2016, and India ranked ninth among foreign countries in direct investment in Myanmar. In the 2015-16 fiscal year, the volume of the trade between the two countries amounted to $ 1.7 billion.

For India, Myanmar’s location is of vital importance. Myanmar is connected to East Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia. India regards Myanmar as a bridge and link to Southeast Asia, and the key portal in achieving India’s Look East Policy. Myanmar is an important buffer state between China and India, and a key element in the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor, having unique advantages.

Myanmar is also India’s important partner for ensuring security in India’s northeastern region. Ethnic armed anti-government forces, across the borders of India and Myanmar, have continuously caused trouble for India over the years. During Suu Kyi’s visit to India, the two leaders reiterated that rebel organizations will not be allowed to use territories of the two countries to engage in hostile activities. In exchange, Modi said India will fully support Myanmar’s initiative for advancing the peace process based on the 21st Century Panglong Conference.

Indian officials have denied that India’s policy toward Myanmar has a “China factor.” However, in the course of implementing its Look East Policy, India has an obvious intention to balance China’s influence or gain strategic advantage by deepening relations with Myanmar. Due to their different social systems and ideologies, as well as border disputes, India has long been worried that Chinese competition will compress its strategic space and threaten its national security.

Although it is sandwiched between two giant neighbors, Myanmar has been adhering to its independent and non-aligned foreign policy, swinging to neither side. During the process of promoting political restructuring and revitalizing the economy, the NLD government must strive to balance the relationship with China and India.

Fundamentally speaking, China’s friendly and cooperative relations with Myanmar will not suffer substantial damage because of India strengthening its Look East Policy, and India-Myanmar cooperation continues to expand. India’s Look East Policy is inevitable, and will be further expanded in the future. For China, Myanmar is an important partner in maintaining its southwestern security, and an important channel for China’s entry into the India Ocean. How to strengthen the relationship with Myanmar and India is an important test for China’s peripheral diplomacy and global strategy. Myanmar is a stage for realizing collaboration and win-win situation between countries, rather than confrontation.

In the process of deepening cooperation with Myanmar, China should not only ensure the mutual benefits of the two countries, but also take into account the feelings of India and other neighboring countries. If countries such as China, India and Myanmar form substantive interconnection, and build a healthy win-win cooperation model, this will have mutually beneficial strategic consequences.