Power shift won’t hurt Sino-Myanmese ties

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-11-10 0:13:01

Myanmar's ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) conceded defeat Monday in the country's general election and the opposition National League of Democracy (NLD), led by Aung San Suu Kyi, claimed it had won more than 70 percent of the seats being contested in the parliament. It will take a few days before the final results are officially released, but the NLD is slated to win and Myanmar will witness a milestone shift of political parties.

Such shifts used to be accompanied with difficulties and risks in the country with a flaccid economy and an influential military. It's laudable that the USDP and military have responded to the opposition's likely victory calmly, but what's more complicated is to gain coordination from the national system.

There is also a focus on possible adjustments to Myanmar's foreign policy, particularly its relations with China. The Sino-Myanmese relationship has seen a swing in recent years from tilting toward China to a middle point between China and the West. Myanmar can continue to fine-tune the position, yet its strategic significance will be framed.

No observer deems that Myanmar will completely tilt toward the US as such a witless move would ruin the strategic space and resources it can obtain from China's amicable policies. Some analysts even predict some backswing in China-Myanmar relationship. The disruption of large programs between the two sides does not serve Myanmar's interests. The NLD is more persuasive to the public than the current regime and Suu Kyi has never publicly spoken ill of these large projects, which partly prepares the two countries to resume cooperation on the large projects.

During the transition of bilateral ties from special to normal, China has been strategically magnanimous and kind. It neither finds fault with Myanmar nor obstructs its other diplomatic options. Keeping a friendly and cooperative relationship with China serves the long-term national interests of Myanmar. Why should Myanmar limit its choice to the US only?

Myanmar aligning with the US is conceived by some people from the ideological perspective, but national interests are diverse and overlapping. Myanmar will only seek to maximize its national interests rather than make strategic sacrifices to court China or the US. In her June visit to China, Suu Kyi already sent signals as to what attitudes Myanmar will hold toward China.

In these globalized times, powers' spheres of influence are diluted. Some Latin American countries in the US backyard have become important partners for China. Similarly, China won't deem it unusual that Myanmar develops its ties with the US. Maintaining friendly and cooperative ties with China will be a rational choice for all its neighboring countries. China should have full confidence in this respect and not be hoodwinked by Western opinion.

Posted in: Editorial

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