Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Will Burma's geography be its salvation?

Charles McDermid of the Asia Times recently interviewed historian Thant Myint-U who said:
Burma is a country of 60 million sandwiched between nearly two-and-a-half billion Chinese and Indians.

We talk about that in the West - the rise of China and India - think of what it will mean to the future of Burma. It will mean everything.

Will it be swallowed up? Or will it benefit from being between the two biggest and most dynamic countries in the world? If it can find a way for all its people to benefit, then Burma's future in the 21st century can still be a very bright one.
One concern some Burmese have is that Burma could get swallowed up by China. By some accounts, Chinese traders and settlers are rapidly changing the ethnic composition of the north of the country.

Of course, Chinese immigrants are also changing the look of Siberia and even parts of Africa.

Are these developments good or bad? Particularly in the case of Burma, it's tempting to say that everything will depend on the course of China's own political development. But we should remember that even the United States has not consistently supported democratic movements abroad.

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