US pressure on Myanmar shows flimsy friendship
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that aides to Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi have warned Western ambassadors that “their pressure on Myanmar in support of ethnic Rohingya Muslims is pushing the country closer to China.” This comes prior to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s upcoming visit to the Myanmar capital of Nay Pyi Taw.
The article also noted the anxiety of analysts from the US, claiming “the Rohingya crisis has touched on concerns about ceding a geopolitical advantage to China.”
US observers have finally done something right after having long interfered in Myanmar’s domestic affairs – taking China’s influence into consideration. But they are wrong again for reflecting on the issue as a struggle for regional influence.
During the Cold War, Washington devoted itself to creating a strategic ring of encirclement around China in Southeast Asia while establishing a US-dominated sphere of influence. However, when analyzing today’s situation in the area, quite a few Americans are still caught in such a mindset.
Beijing is bound to enhance its relationship with neighboring countries for the sake of long-term peace and stability. The projects it has been proposing, including the Belt and Road initiative, are aimed at sharing the successes of China’s development. Nations in China’s periphery which are in urgent need of boosting their economies, like Myanmar, have no excuse to turn down the good faith and benefits provided by Beijing.
China’s influence in the region is rising because it understands complexity. It knows that when helping Nay Pyi Taw resolve the long-standing ethnic conflicts, respects must be paid to the Myanmese government, instead of pointing an accusing finger without providing realistic remedies.
The West is now condemning Myanmar for its violation of human rights simply because the nation did not follow the US suit. The hegemonic behavior will certainly not be accepted by Nay Pyi Taw and will only serve to erode the West’s sway in the country.
Suu Kyi adopted a flexible diplomatic approach after assuming office as an attempt to strive for as much support as possible from the international community for Myanmar’s economic development and peace process. The US is now making no secret of its frustration after failing to turn Myanmar into its own turf.
The New York Times once published an article entitled “Did the World Get Aung San Suu Kyi Wrong?” The author failed to realize that the US, or the West, cannot represent the world. This arrogance has disturbed their judgment. In the end, the West will only get the world wrong.
The same goes with US longstanding approach – treating everything as a fight for influence in its foreign policies.
Eventually, those that have been wooed by the US will only move closer to China, as they cannot rely on US moral principles to govern their countries.