Myanmar has made substantial shifts in its relations with major powers China, Russia and the United States. They are key regional players in Southeast Asia that will impact directly on peace and stability as well as economic development in Myanmar.
In the first half of the year, China has made impressive diplomatic inroads throughout Southeast Asia, taking advantage of the lack of policy clarity coming from the new US 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 on Europe. That much was clear. It was only on Thursday that Vice President Mike Pence disclosed that Trump would attend the Asia Pacific Economic Leaders Meeting in Vietnam, and the ASEAN-US Summit and East Asia Summit in the Philippines.
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 several challenges over the years.
Obviously, China has placed the highest value on U Htin Kyaw’s week-long trip, knowing that, amid growing anxieties over US policy toward the region, this would be the most pivotal time to further strengthen their 67-year-old bilateral ties.
The joint press communiqué issued after his visit was extensive and forward-looking, as China recognised the so-called Myanmar way of doing things.