Myanmar policy shifts toward the major global powers

By Kavi Chongkittavorn, The Nation/ANN

Thailand — Myanmar has made substantial shifts towards its relations with major powers comprising China, Russia and the United States. They are key regional players in Southeast Asia which will impact directly on peace and stability as well as economic development in Myanmar. In the first half of this year, China has made impressive diplomatic inroads throughout Southeast Asia, taking advantage of the lack of policy clarity coming from the new U.S. administration of President Donald Trump.

So far, Washington has flexed its muscle over the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan and displayed a more reconciliatory tone toward Europe. That much was clear. It was only on Thursday that Vice President Mike Pence said that Trump would attend the Asia Pacific Economic Leaders Meeting in Vietnam, the ASEAN-U.S. summit and the East Asia Summit. Meanwhile, Beijing has been able to sharpen its long-standing policy and make the necessary adjustments to ensure strong friendships and cooperation with countries in the region. Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw’s recent visit to China demonstrated the new dynamics of their bilateral ties, which have encountered different challenges over the years.

Obviously, China has placed the highest value on Htin Kyaw’s weeklong trip, knowing full well that this would be the most pivotal time to further strengthen their 67-year-old bilateral ties amid growing anxieties over the U.S. policy toward the region.