Sunday, May 27, 2012
India seeks to strengthen ties with Burma
China's government seems torn with conflicting policies both internal and external. Truly focusing on internal stability while raising living standards, the government repeatedly raises concerns over its human rights - dissidents abound, and the heavy hand in Tibet are examples. Externally, while loaning the US trillions and acting responsibly on global trade, China indulges itself with provocative positions - ie, sabre rattling over Taiwan, and expansive claims in the South China Sea, neutrality concerning abuses in Syria and provocations from Iran, little leadership with North Korean threats to its neighbors, etc.
India, on the other hand, seems to have a more consistent record of trying to quietly build or strengthen ties with its neighbors - addressing old wounds, setting a new or different framework for finding mutual benefits. While India's tensions remain sharp and deep with Pakistan, on nearly every other front the country has maintained a lower and neighborly profile in contrast to its northern neighbor.
This past week, the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Burma (or Myanmar) which has itself been moving towards greater democracy and benign governance. According to one account, business ties between the neighboring countries have been weak since the Myanmar military nationalized Indian businesses and expelled hundreds of thousands of ethnic Indians after taking over in 1962.
Since that low point, investment and trade have slowly increased, but the change since Burma's new political tolerance began in the past year, the pace has quickened. India is funding the new port in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State in Myanmar - a strategic decision benefiting both countries, as the port is part of a $214-million river and road network that will carve a trade route into India's landlocked northeast.
Nothing earthshaking - these trade negotiations and projects, but such a contrast to the violence still rising in Syria, now spilling in turn into Lebanon.