Tensions in Myanmar are expected to ease over the next several weeks. In the past months, a series of violent conflicts between various ethnic groups in the country drew a concerned response from international observers. A number of positive events this week, however, may lead us to consider that a period of calm is likely to follow. In particular, we are likely to see an increase in the level of trust between Myanmar’s leadership and the international community.
An agreement was signed this week by Myanmar’s Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin and Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This agreement will allow international inspectors wider access to facilities thought to have the potential to develop nuclear technology. According to the IAEA, this move will help clear lingering suspicions that Myanmar had been trying to develop nuclear weapons during the country’s long military rule that ended last year.
The World Bank also announced the approval of a 140 million dollar loan to upgrade the country’s power supply. France’s newspaper, Les Echos, reports that the loan will double the capacity of Myanmar’s main power plant, while reducing its overall CO2 emissions.
A recent report by Yun Sun published by the Stimson Center points out that there has been a sharp decrease in Chinese investment in Myanmar over the past few years. Following recent political changes, Myanmar has been trying to detach itself from its economic overdependence on China, and has been looking to the West and its partners in ASEAN to counterbalance the reduction in Chinese investment. Add to this the recent quibbles over profit sharing and pollution at Chinese-owned mines, dams, and pipelines, and it would seem that Myanmar is becoming impatient China, and possibly vice versa.
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