Burma: At the Center of the U.S.-China Competition
‘Chinese oil and gas pipelines snake across Myanmar from China’s landlocked Yunnan province to the Bay of Bengal—a route that Beijing wants to transform into a broader economic corridor with road and rail connections.’
‘Myanmar’s transition from military rule toward democracy that began a decade ago was trumpeted as a strategic victory for Washington in China’s backyard.’
- ‘Eager to blunt Beijing’s influence, Myanmar opened its doors to diplomatic and commercial ties with the West.’
- ‘On Monday, Myanmar’s soldiers seized power in a coup, detaining Aung San Suu Kyi and other civilian leaders.’
‘The takeover, coming against the backdrop of a deepening U.S.-China rivalry, pits the foreign-policy strategies of the two powers against each other.’
- ‘And it thrusts Myanmar on to the front lines of an increasingly tense geopolitical competition for global leadership.’
‘The U.S. has framed its approach to Myanmar as a push for democracy and human rights.’
- ‘The focus of Beijing, which says it has a policy of noninterference in the domestic affairs of other countries, has largely been on economic and strategic interests.’
- ‘The differences were clear in the response by the two nations to the coup.’
‘President Biden pressed the Myanmar military to relinquish power and raised the possibility of imposing sanctions.’
- ‘Mr. Biden said he would reach out to partners in the region—an effort that tests his promise to marshal the world’s democracies against authoritarian states.’
- ‘The State Department on Tuesday officially labeled the episode a coup.'
‘China took a muted stand, expressing hope that all sides would “properly manage their differences.” ’
- ‘ “Chinese strategy has always been, ‘We will work with whoever comes to power.’ I call it China’s moral flexibility,” said Yun Sun, a China specialist at the Stimson Center, a Washington think tank.’
‘For Beijing, neighboring Myanmar offers a strategic gateway to the Indian Ocean, and it is a source of minerals, timber and other resources.’
- ‘Chinese oil and gas pipelines snake across Myanmar from China’s landlocked Yunnan province to the Bay of Bengal—a route that Beijing wants to transform into a broader economic corridor with road and rail connections.’
‘For Washington, Myanmar is a place where U.S. officials saw an opening to turn a pariah into a partner, score a win for democracy and erode China’s dominance.’
- ‘ “The dilemma for the new Biden administration is twofold: additional U.S. sanctions will have only marginal impact on the Burmese military, which is largely immune to unilateral U.S. measures,” said Daniel Russel, a former senior State Department official.’
- ‘ “Secondly, China is only too happy to step in and support the Burmese military as part of its ongoing effort to maximize its influence in Southeast Asia,” he said.’
‘Western countries imposed sweeping sanctions against Myanmar, banning investment, trade and travel.’
- ‘Beijing swooped in to fill the void, enriching the military elite through investments in such sectors as resource extraction and becoming the country’s primary trade partner.’
'In Myanmar, aides to Ms. Suu Kyi warned Western ambassadors that pressure on the country was pushing it closer to China.'
- 'Beijing had become a vocal defender, blocking Western efforts for a resolution in the U.N. Security Council demanding an end to violent treatment of Rohingya. The council settled for a nonbinding statement.'
- 'Suu Kyi’s office, in a nod to China, thanked those “who upheld the principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of sovereign countries.” '
In January last year, China’s leader Xi Jinping made a visit to Myanmar, the first by a Chinese head of state in almost two decades.'
- 'He signed a raft of agreements to jump-start the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, a multibillion-dollar package of infrastructure, trade and energy projects.'