“Towards a New “Humanitarian Front”? Myanmar and the Geopolitics of Empire
Myanmar has been gripped by abhorrent ethnic violence in recent weeks – violence which has begun to cast doubt on the democratic future of the country. The sectarian and religious bloodletting between the Buddhist Rakhine people and the Muslim minority known as the Rohingya, has led to an international outcry and a swift military response from the government. This sort of violence, something which is not entirely new in the region, threatens to tarnish the reforms made by the nation in the last twelve months.
However, with the eyes of the world focused on the Southeast Asian country, a much more significant and covert war is taking shape: a proxy war in which the United States and its allies use a variety of violent and non-violent means in their quest to block Chinese economic investment and development in Myanmar. It is against this backdrop that the recent changes, ranging from the ascension of Aung San Suu Kyi to the current ethnic strife in Sittwe, must be understood.
As Myanmar undergoes the transition to a more open, democratic society, so too does it open itself to the dangers and fruits of international engagement. While the country has the opportunity to enrich itself and bring economic and social benefits to the people, it also runs the risk of allowing itself to be part of the global strategy of the United States to contain China and prevent its economic expansion. As its geographical location indicates, Myanmar finds itself at the center of a geopolitical and economic proxy war. As the imperialist ruling class of the West desperately clings to power in hopes of extending their hegemony for another century, so too does China seek to gain the status of superpower on the world stage. For Myanmar, this could be an economic boon: the chance for wealth and prosperity for a people who have suffered under the yoke of imperialist domination for the last three centuries. However, equally important, will be the decisions made in the next few years which will have serious implications for Myanmar’s present and its future.”