Mak­ing New Friends

Southasia - - Editor's Mail -

The re­cent visit of Hil­lary Clin­ton to Myan­mar must have rung bells for China. China that was al­ready wary of In­dian in­flu­ence in the coun­try has stepped up its di­plo­macy with Myan­mar. But public re­sent­ment against main­land China is very high and it is time that Myan­mar looks be­yond a sole friend- ship and to­wards a more var­ied for­eign pol­icy ap­proach that en­com­passes a num­ber of coun­tries. China has been try­ing to build a

sphere of in­flu­ence to con­tain the In­dia threat that has now dou­bled, fol­low­ing US in­ter­ests and state­ments of con­tin­ued en­gage­ment in the Asia Pa­cific re­gion. China that re­mains sus­pi­cious of In­dian and US poli­cies in the re­gion will only try harder to pacify bi­lat­eral re­la­tions with Myan­mar. This was no more ev­i­dent when fol­low­ing Ms. Clin­ton’s visit, China pub­licly and grandly wel­comed Myan­mar's vis­it­ing mil­i­tary chief, Gen­eral Min Aung Hlaing.

China is in a weak po­si­tion and Myan­mar has at­tracted much global con­cern and in­volve­ment due to its po­lit­i­cal re­forms. Though still un­der mil­i­tary rule, the coun­try now has the op­por­tu­nity to flex some diplo­matic mus­cles and build re­li­able al­liances with the rest of the world. It must hold its fort and re­frain from suc­cumb­ing to Chi­nese in­flu­ence. Michael Zenko Sacra­mento, US

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