The book delved into the role of Myanmar as it straddle between China and India. It discussed how Myanmar’s history is intertwined with these giant neighbours. Thant Myint-U chronicled his visit on both sides of the border frontiers of Myanmar with China and India and provided historical notes enlightening the reader about this region.
Current realities are more complex with Myanmar recently opened up its doors to the rest of the world. It has to contend with the growing interests of these neighbours. On the one hand is the “peacefully rising” China, keen on opening a front to develop its inner and western section, left behind by the rapid development of the coastal areas. The Yunan province became the front and Myanmar is its stepping stone to its access to the Bay of Bengal. Pipelines, roads and railways are under construction, some are already partially operational to make this access a reality.
On the other hand, India is also “looking east” to develop Assam, one of its poorest regions. Making it a gateway to Myanmar and possibly the connection to China opens up untold potentials. The dream of linking China and India is not a modern initiative. It has been there before the coming of the western powers. Contemporary geopolitical considerations made this dream more pressing. Myanmar may function as a buffer to keep the two powers at bay, or may be the link that will connect the two and further spark economic development.
Interesting read and a must for observers of the Southeast Asian region.