Myanmar won’t distance itself from China

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-16 0:08:01

Tuesday saw Myanmar elect a new president. U Htin Kyaw, a member of the National League for Democracy (NLD), took the top office. Two vice presidents have also been elected, one from the military, and the other from the NLD. This election is a watershed in Myanmar's peaceful transition of power.

Htin Kyaw is Suu Kyi's lifetime follower. With a gentle nature, he places his loyalty to the NLD and Suu Kyi. He  claimed that his election to the post is a victory for Suu Kyi. After her party's overwhelming victory in the general election, Suu Kyi had publicly stated that she would be above the president in the new government.

For Myanmar, the top priority for the democratic process is a steady transition of power. Up till now, all stakeholders have been rational and willing to compromise. In fact, some conundrums that cannot be overlooked have been shelved temporarily.

Myanmar's democratization will lead to a reduction of the military's impact. The process will have to legalize Suu Kyi's leadership. Some assume the NLD will try to amend the constitution, paving the way for Suu Kyi, whose family is British, to become president.

Politics will remain the top priority for the new NLD government. Its institution as a modern administration is incomplete. Haunted by poor infrastructure, a low-skilled labor market and serious corruption, the Myanmese economy is in a backwater. But the huge market is attractive to massive foreign investments.

Among all foreign investors, China is the strongest. However, since Myanmar's democratic process started, Chinese investors have encountered quite a few problems. Chinese companies signed contracts with the junta, whose loss of trust in the Myanmese brought collateral damage to them. Major projects, such as the Myitsone dam, have been suspended.

The NLD government is unlikely to subvert its predecessor's foreign policy. In particular, it will not estrange itself from China. Suu Kyi won't embroil her country in the China-US major-power game. She will assume a neutral posture.

Even when Suu Kyi needed Western support in the democratic process, she refrained from expressing unfriendliness to China.

The rest of the NLD's leadership has also stressed the significance of the Sino-Myanmese friendship. China stands out as an important partner to help Myanmar restore stability and revive its fractured economy.

Since the NLD boasts a high reputation in Myanmar, those suspended major projects are very likely to be resumed. The Myitsone dam, which is designed to promote the well-being of the Myanmese, should be embraced, not denied. China is willing to provide solid support for Myanmar's stability and development, as they are also in line with China's national interest.

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