Two weeks ago the Obama administration declared that it will drop all remaining economic sanctions imposed on Myanmar. Since 1997, when the sanctions were established as a response to the gross human rights abuses being committed by the country’s ruling junta, they have prevented any tangible trade between the two countries. But is lifting the sanctions the right thing to do?
Imagine an entirely plausible scenario for the effects of climate change in 2045. The Greenland ice sheet has melted entirely, adding 20 feet to the oceans. Unprecedented outbreaks of pests have ruined crops of corn, wheat and rice around the world, causing food shortages and riots. In the US, the army patrols major cities.
I’ve recently returned from Rakhine State. There to cover the first visit by Kofi Annan and the other members of the Rakhine Advisory Commission to the troubled region, I stayed on to speak to people in a number of communities about their current concerns. There was no shortage of issues to look into.
Myanmar is in a critical period where the direction of the power sector can provide revolutionary inclusive sustainable growth, or become a crippling anchor keeping the economy submerged under rising tides.
When it comes to attitudes about American presidential contender Donald Trump, it is tempting to recall those catchy lyrics from the Beatles: “You say high, I say low; you say why and I say I don’t know.”
China has always valued education, reflecting its Confucian tradition, according to which one must excel scholastically to achieve high professional and social status. But today, the country is stricken with what some call “education fever”, as middle-class Chinese parents demand more schooling for their children and as young people seek ways to avoid the drudgery of factory life.
State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s appointment of the Kofi Annan-led commission on Rakhine State clearly evidences the government’s recognition that these issues have risen to an international scale. Such a commission, and the inclusion of foreign experts, could not have been conceived of even a year ago.
Myanmar is at a critical juncture. The energy choices it makes will have significant and long-term environmental, economic, social and political consequences.
For a great power to lead the world there are a few qualities that it should bring to the table. These include, but are not limited to, material strength, an aspiration for recognition and sufficient international support. Does China currently possess these qualities?
Soon after the May 2014 coup I joined the faculty of Mahidol University and was asked to teach a course on “Democracy as a Political System”. I wondered at what seemed a poisoned chalice. A colleague told me, only half-joking, to keep a wad of cash for a sudden escape. The subject was not new, but the setting was. How do you teach democracy in a country that has just suspended it?