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Dividing ASEAN and Conquering the South China SeaChina's Financial Power Projection$
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Daniel C. O'Neill

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9789888455966

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888455966.001.0001

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Evolving Institutions and Declining Chinese Influence in Myanmar

Evolving Institutions and Declining Chinese Influence in Myanmar

(p.179) 8 Evolving Institutions and Declining Chinese Influence in Myanmar
Dividing ASEAN and Conquering the South China Sea

Daniel C. O'Neill

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter examines the effects of the evolution of political institutions in Myanmar on Sino-Burmese relations. The chapter argues that this case stands as particularly powerful evidence for the book’s thesis; as the Burmese regime liberalized, opposition to Chinese influence, previously boiling under a lid of authoritarianism, bubbled to the surface. This has resulted in a weakening of the bonds between governments that had long been “blood brothers.” The chapter shows that under the ruling SPDC, the Chinese could rely on close government-to-government ties to gain support on important issues, such as China’s South China Sea claims, and Chinese firms could rely on politically-connected Burmese “cronies” to secure approval for and protection of their investments. Political reforms beginning in 2011 that witnessed the end to decades-long military rule saw a concomitant plunge in Chinese investment in Myanmar and delays and even cancellations of major projects by Chinese SOEs in Myanmar, such as the Letpadaung Copper Mine and the Myitsone Hydropower Project. The chapter concludes that the Myanmar case illustrates that the evolution of the political “rules of the game” in China’s bilateral partner are a form of political risk for China and its firms.

Keywords:   Aung San Suu Kyi, China, State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), Letpadaung Copper Mine, Myanmar, Myitsone hydropower project, National League for Democracy (NLD), political reforms, state-owned enterprises, Thein Sein

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