As Myanmar experiments with a new democratic system, several new political forces have emerged that are shifting the country’s previous military-dominated course. Beyond the myriad ethnic minority groups, four different mainstream forces are redefining the country’s international relations, perhaps most crucially with neighboring China.
The new political power centers include the government led by President Thein Sein; the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) steered by parliamentary head Shwe Mann; the military commanded by senior general Min Aung Hlaing, and the democratic opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
China is now building separate and distinct relations with each of the four mentioned groups. Understanding China’s policies toward each group is thus key to accurately assessing Beijing’s broader country strategy and internal calculations.
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This op-ed first appeared in Asia Times Online on December 23, 2013
Photo illustration by Lita Ledesma