Myanmar's democratic transition and the consequent dynamics between Nay Pyi Taw and Washington have commanded strategic priority for America’s Asia policy. As the Obama years come to a close, and the White House prepares for its new president, how the US-Myanmar relationship pans out will be of interest to America’s strategic competitors and partners alike.
There is no subtlety about Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines. He has waged a brutal extrajudicial campaign against supposed drug dealers and users, killing thousands without due process. On September 30, he compared himself to Hitler in describing his desire to exterminate dealers and addicts.
Two weeks after ASEAN health ministers agreed to step up the sharing of information on the Zika virus, the most informed and credible data about ASEAN countries is from the other side of the world. This disconcerting situation is unacceptable.
A crumpled instant-noodle bowl ground into the mud is an unlikely symbol of economic vitality. But during China’s boom years those bowls were as ubiquitous around Chinese construction sites as the high-rise cranes above them. That was no accident.
While the decades-long conflict in Myanmar is unquestionably unique, some of its aspects resemble those in other countries afflicted with protracted internal armed violence. Many of these have benefited more than Myanmar has from the attention and involvement of the international community.
It's all happening in the Philippines these days – a raging war against drugs, an “independent” foreign policy that may fracture relations with the United States, and the prospect of hosting Miss Universe (and ASEAN) in 2017. But the proposed constitutional revision to shift from unitary to federal government has remained a steady background issue.
Since the 1980s, special economic zones (SEZs) have been considered an important part of a developing country’s policy apparatus. They generate jobs, attract foreign investment and improve local businesses.
When the central character in the 1998 movie Enemy of the State feigns ignorance about what’s happening, his good-guy sidekick explodes and shouts, “You’re either very smart – or incredibly stupid.” It’s a line that resonates these days when seeking to understand many of the world’s political leaders and especially those in Southeast Asia.
This magical music – Kyaw Kyaw Naing’s hsaing, U Ba Htay’s hne, U Tin Yi’s tayaw and Myanmar slide guitarist Man Yar Pyae U Tin – carried clues to understanding the particular, the un-global latitude and longitude of Burmese character and art.