Steady diplomacy expected from Myanmar's new government

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-31 1:04:23

U Htin Kyaw was sworn in as Myanmar's new president Wednesday, becoming the nation's first democratically elected leader without a military background for 54 years. Aung San Suu Kyi, taking on four ministerial posts, has secured the real power in the new government. Myanmar's regime transition came to an end yesterday. 

Myanmar's new era has progressed more smoothly than expected. From the democratic reform, which started from U Thein Sein's presidency, to today's regime change, the nation witnessed no major unrest. 

The new government has a long road ahead. Myanmar's low social development level will test Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy's political capability. Elsewhere, it is rare for a politician to take on four ministerial posts. Suu Kyi's reputation has legitimated this commonly unacceptable practice in Myanmar. Suu Kyi has no choice but to prove she is right to do so. 

Maintaining political stability and economic development is an urgent task for the new government. To this end, Myanmar's institutions still acknowledge the junta's special influence. The new government's reform is thus restricted in scope and strength.

Underdeveloped countries can hardly achieve fast development without authoritarian rule. Myanmar may be the first developing country to break the rule. Another possibility is that Suu Kyi becomes a new political strongwoman, bringing efficiency to the nation. 

In any case, the new government faces tough tasks. Under the first situation, Myanmar will for sure severely punish corruption to realize fairness. This would strike a blow to the junta, jeopardizing the nation's basis for solidarity. 

In the second case, Suu Kyi may easily run into confrontation with the military. With many thorny domestic issues to be solved, the new government is expected to take a steady approach in its diplomacy, avoiding major geopolitical confrontations and securing favorable international factors. Suu Kyi has been careful in maintaining a balance between the relationship with Washington and Beijing.

There is no sign that Myanmar's new government plans to move closer to the US. In the past, the junta, under Western sanctions, was forced to rely on China. Thein Sein's administration started the rapprochement with the West. Myanmar is moving toward maintaining a good relationship with both China and the US.

Many countries have experienced their ties with China dropping from the peak due to political change. Nearly all saw the bilateral relationship stabilize later or swing back. Myanmar is one of these. 

The speciality of the China-Myanmar relationship lies in local ethnic militias. Some Myanmese insist that the issue is held up because of China's support. But this is a big misunderstanding. China needs to communicate candidly with Myanmar's new government and society that this is Myanmar's own problem.

It is important for China to improve communication with Myanmar public opinion. The deficiency in this regard has been realized and tangible progress is expected.

Newspaper headline: Steady diplomacy expected in Myanmar

Posted in: Editorial

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