This briefing aims to deepen discussion on the Belt and Road Iniatiative (BRI) in Myanmar. The BRI is often described as a ‘grand strategy’ led by President Xi Jinping, centrally planned and rolled out by obedient state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The sheer size of the initiative – 136 countries have received US$90 billion in Chinese foreign direct investment and exchanged US$6 trillion in trade with China - can make the BRI appear monolithic and inevitable. However, using a political economy analysis, this briefing demonstrates that the BRI is not a grand strategy, but a broad framework of activities that seek to address a crisis in Chinese capitalism. An examination of four BRI projects in Myanmar using Chinese language sources shows the extent of lobbying by Chinese SOEs and the Yunnan provincial government to promote the projects, with support from the central Chinese government.
A Memorandum of Understanding to establish the China Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) was signed by the governments of Myanmar and China in September 2018. The CMEC forms part of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a 21st century reimagining of the ancient Silk Road, the network of land and sea trade routes that once linked Imperial China with markets in the west.
Aung San Suu Kyi and her NLD government faced a tough situation with China at the time of their inauguration in March. But, as she visits Beijing this week, hopes are high again in China that a redirection of Myanmar's foreign policy could be underway and the pendulum of Myanmar's balancing diplomacy is swinging back to the east. But many challenges lie ahead. These include resolution of the Myitsone dam impasse, repositioning political relations between the two countries, and peaceful settlement of ethnic conflicts in the Myanmar borderlands. The stakes are very high. The outcome of Aung San Suu Kyi's meetings could well come to define Myanmar-China relations for many years to come.
A call for papers that offer rigorous and innovative analysis to continue deepening and broadening our understanding of global land deals – in specific regional context, with special attention to climate change and the role of China and other middle income countries within the region.
China and the EU are preparing to launch negotiations for a bilateral investment agreement at the next EU-China Summit this November. The proposed agreement would replace existing bilateral investment treaties between EU member states and China. This is the moment to develop a more balanced international investment framework that would protect the sovereign power of both parties.
The EU could play a valuable role in preventing another flawed climate deal if it neutralises the US and brings other ditherers on board while starting talks on future obligations for the emerging economies.
As the Japanese nuclear crisis escalates in severity, and the myth about nuclear energy being safe is exposed - movements around the world are calling for a change of policy and moratoriums on plant construction.
There are many important factors to consider when speaking broadly of China's role in Africa, and one should avoid falling into the trap of simplistic comparisons with historic African-European relations.
The “corruption-causes-poverty” narrative has become a standard tool in the hegemonic discourse kit for leaders in some developing countries - where in fact, Waldon Bello argues, it is neoliberal economic policies that are really to blame for poverty. Thailand’s “Red Shirts” are not, however, being distracted by the “corruption” line the World Bank and IMF are pushing, choosing instead to keep their eyes on the prize - the real answer to poverty - replacing neoliberalism with pro-people economic policies.
Like Hamlet, Shakespeare's conflicted Prince of Denmark, China was caught between conflicting currents in Copenhagen. Its failure to manage these challenges led to its biggest diplomatic debacle in years.