China's "Realpolitik" Engagement with Myanmar

World Security Institute
Publication Type:
Journal Article
China Security, 2009, 1, 5 (1), pp. 105 - 126
Issue Date:
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This paper asks why China engages with the reclusive military regime of Myanmar and shields it from international opprobrium over its dismal human rights record. Conventional wisdom has it that China wishes to gain a foothold in the untapped energy resources of this Southeast Asian nation when China is increasingly reliant on imported oil and gas and to establish military bases on Myanmar soil. Without completely repudiating the first argument, the paper contends that the scramble for energy is not the principal reason for China to adopt an accommodating approach towards Myanmar. The principle and practice of non-interference espoused by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with regard to democracy and the human rights situation in Myanmar, also plays a pivotal role in shaping Chinaâs relations with the military junta. The paper sheds light on Chinaâs grand strategy of building up an architecture of global governance on the basis of regional intergovernmental organisations, aimed at reducing the hegemonic influence of the United States in Asia and the world.
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