US and China Geostrategic Rivalry on Myanmar: A Comparative Study on before and after 1988

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Oratai Soparat


The focus of this study was to examine how the geostrategic rivalry between the United States and China influenced the dynamics of relations with Myanmar, during two significant periods: the era of Ne Win spanning from 1962 to 1988, and the post-Ne Win period from 1988 to 2012. China, through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), embarked on infrastructure projects such as road construction connecting Yunnan to Sittwe, an Indian Ocean port in Myanmar. Myanmar, as a key player, found itself positioning at the crossroads of the competition between these two major geopolitical actors. This study employed a qualitative research methodology based on content analysis, gathering secondary data, within the conceptual frameworks of Realpolitik and Hedging Strategy. The study’s findings revealed a nuanced evolution in the relations between Myanmar and China. Before 1988, apprehensions regarding the spread of the Communist influence, particularly through the Communist Party of Burma, kept the two nations at a distance. However, driven by the need for foreign investments to bolster economic reforms, Myanmar forged trade agreements with China, resulting in a closer alignment in the post-1988 period. Conversely, Myanmar and the United States initially fostered relations based on shared political ideologies, particularly in the pre-1988 era, emphasizing trade and financial assistance to counter the growing threat of Communism in the region. However, the post-1988 period witnessed increasing pressure from the US through trade sanctions and embargoes. Despite these challenges, the U.S. continued to support Myanmar's democratization process.


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Soparat, O. . (2024). US and China Geostrategic Rivalry on Myanmar: A Comparative Study on before and after 1988. Journal of Social Sciences Naresuan University, 20(1), 189–233.
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