ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Foreign Policy : Looking East

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It is a nation that has for over a decade isolated itself from most contacts with the outside world, but now Myanmar's military leadership finds itself actively wooed by many countries. This courtship, as even India's recent diplomatic overtures would indicate, is dictated by Myanmar's strategic geopolitical location in south-east Asia.

Myanmar had withdrawn into itself in 1988, since its suppression of the pro-democracy movement and imprisonment of the movement's leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, shunning relations with almost all nations, except one China. Turning a deaf ear to the international outcry against Myanmar's persistent human rights violations, China cemented its ties with Myanmar the same year by signing a significant trade agreement. The agreement, Myanmar's first with any neighbour, established official trading relations across a common border. China was eager to find a trading outlet to the Indian Ocean for its landlocked inland provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan; the Myanmar north-eastern railheads of Myitkyina and Lashio, as well as the Irrawaddy River, were potential conduits.

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