Chinese Scholars on Anti-Chinese Sentiment in Myanmar and Non-Interference in Politics Policy Mean Supporting Dictatorships?

Capsule summary: Myanmar is examined as a case study of the rise and consequences for China of anti-China feeling.  The authors say that  many Chinese officials and scholars agree that anti-Chinese feeling is a big obstacle for China’s trade and investment plans in many countries. Other Chinese scholars are also doing studies on the same topic in other countries.   The authors argue that China needs to re-examine its policy of focusing on economic relations and ignoring the domestic policies of other countries since support for unpopular dictatorships makes China unpopular and can lead to great difficulties for Chinese trade and investment later on.  See the summary translation of highlights below.  The full Chinese text is I found the article on the World Regional Studies website at http://202.120.85.33/Jweb_sjdlyj/CN/volumn/current.shtml
World Regional Studies is published by East China Normal University.

The World Regional Studies 世界地理研究 June 2015 article “An analysis on the formation and cause of anti-China sentiment in Myanmar” 2015,24(2):20-30 by Li Cancong of Beijing Normal University and Ge Yuanjing of Yunnan Normal University
examined anti-Chinese feeling in Myanmar along with a review of the history of anti-Chinese feeling in the country, and suggestions for improving the situation. Causes examined include feelings of excessive dependence upon China yet being unable to avoid it; resentment of Chinese cooperation with the previous military government; foreign NGOs and western countries badmouthing China; excessive flaunting of wealth by local Chinese and Chinese from the PRC dispatched by Chinese companies; the concentration of Chinese companies on exploiting natural resources and concerns that Chinese companies employ few local people; and exaggeration of problems by the Myanmar media.

One intriguing passage discusses public instability overseas as the obstacle to Chinese overseas investment, noting that Chinese most officials and scholars believe that Chinese needs to develop new sources of energy supplies [elsewhere the authors recommend that China limit imports from the Middle East and increase imports from more reliable sources such as Africa and Latin America. Angola and the Congo are noted as particularly reliable oil suppliers.] The authors note that failing to handle anti-Chinese feeling properly could prevent China from building a rail link across Burma to the Indian Ocean that would enable China to avoid the Malacca Strait and the US strategy of blocking China from emerging from behind the “island chain”.

(p. 24)其次,缅甸的排华思潮给中国能源的安全供给带来了极大的威胁。中国成为世界上第二大石油净进口国。中国经济发展对外资源的高度依赖,使得能源安全成为制约我国经济发展和社会稳定的重要因素。目前,对于能源的供给,大部分政府官员和学者普遍认为开拓更多的能源供给地是保证能源安全供给的重要举措。而从中东动乱、利比亚国内动荡、马六甲海峡之困等一系列的事件和事实,我们不难发现拥有安全、稳定的能源供给地远远胜过“开拓更多的能源供给地”。因为在现有的中国“不干预内政”、“政经分开”的指导下,因局部性的战争和区域局势动荡,中国想在中东等地区获得稳定的能源供给很难得以保障;加之,中国能源进口的远距离特征明显、“马六甲海峡之困”等因素,中国要保证能源供给地的安全和稳定困难重重。学者梅育新就提出目前中国海外投资最大的障碍是当地社会的不稳定[22]。加之2013年中缅油气输油管道的贯通,缅甸和中东地区的石油、天然气等能源可以更为安全、稳定的进入中国,缅甸逐步成为中国重要“稳定和安全的能源供给地”。但是由于缅甸的排华和反华情绪,“稳定和安全的能源供给地”受到极大的威胁。

再次,缅甸排华思潮给中国当前重大发展战略的实施带来较大的影响。缅甸是东南亚地区中国重要的周边国家,缅甸地处中国、东南亚、南亚的交汇区,西南和南面分别与孟加拉湾和安达曼海相临,其敏感、重要的地理区位和潜在脆弱的国内局势,对我国当前地缘环境的安全、保护缅甸华人利益、维护西南边疆和能源安全、推进“一带一路”发展战略、促进“中印孟缅经济走廊”的建设、做好我国当前“稳定周边、开拓周边、塑造周边”的相关工作都具有重要的意义。排华思潮产生不仅给这些政策的实施带来了较大的挑战,同时为中国避开马六甲
海峡而西出印度洋、冲破美国岛链的封锁带来了一定的困难,特别是皎漂港到昆明的高速铁路搁浅之后,这一影响更加明显。

The authors recommend that China find ways to help the average person in Myanmar including through cooperation with NGOs (the author say Chinese help has often been channeled through the government, causing resentment), that Chinese become more aware of and sensitive to local concerns (mentioned as an example the dam project where work has been stopped — a site sacred to the Kunhing people and precious to Myanmar culture)

“Just as the scholar Fan Hongwei has said, Myanmar may become trigger a re-assessment of Chinese thinking on foreign relations. These circumstances are not limited to Myanmar — Chinese investors in Africa and the Middle East face them as well. China is a hot spot in the economies of the countries getting Chinese investment but politically it feels a chill. The unhappiness of local people towards Chinese companies is a big problem for Chinese investment overseas. It is a problem shared across many different Chinese investments overseas. This is a problem that the Chinese government and Chinese companies should reflect deeply upon. Li Chenyang has said that Chinese foreign policy in its relations with neighboring countries should pay attention to the details. The policies of “non-interference in domestic politics” and “separating economics from politics” are the fruit of China’s diplomatic experience. However, as China rises and the world geopolitical environment changes, will the Chinese policy of non-intervention while engaging in economic cooperation remain suitable in the changed geopolitical situation?

We need to think deeply about this. When considering how to solve the difficulties of Chinese overseas investment, we need first of all to think about China’s current foreign policy and how it needs to be adjusted, and become clear about China’s diplomatic strategy and position. During military rule in Myanmar, the Myanmar people were very unhappy about the dictatorship and the people came to oppose the military government. China according to its “non-interference in domestic politics” policy engaged in economic cooperation with the military government so the Myanmar people have reason to feel that China was the “accomplice” of the military government and helped the military government implement its dictatorship. Therefore, we need to clarify our foreign policy and to make our position clear.”

(p. 27) 5.1 反思中国现行的外交策略,调整中国外交的整体思路
正如学者范宏伟所言,缅甸会成为中国外交改变整体思维的触发点[26],其实此种情况不仅缅甸存在,在中国投资的非洲、中东地区同样存在。中国在投资国经济上较热,政治上遇冷,地方民众一定程度上对中国企业有不满情绪,这是中国海外投资的困境,是中国大量海外投资的共性,也是需要政府和企业深刻反思的问题。李晨阳也指出,中国周边外交需要注重细节[31]。“不干涉内政”、“政经分开”政策确实是我国外交政策的经验总结,但随着中国的崛起,世界地缘环境的变化,中国不干预内政下的经济合作能否适应当前变化了的世界地缘政治格局?这一问题值得我们深思。因此,要摆脱中国海外投资企业的困境,首先需要对中国现行外交政策进行反思和调整,明确中国外交策略和立场。缅甸军政府时期,独裁是民众最大的不满,民众与军政府之间是一种对立的局面。中国奉行“不干涉内政”与军政府进行经济合作,民众有理由认为中国就是军政府的“帮凶”,协助军政府实施独裁。因此,从宏观上明晰外交策略,明确立场显得尤为重要。

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One Response to Chinese Scholars on Anti-Chinese Sentiment in Myanmar and Non-Interference in Politics Policy Mean Supporting Dictatorships?

  1. Pingback: CASS Scholar Xue Li: The Foreign Affairs Risks for China of “The Silk Road Economic Belt” and “The 21st-century Maritime Silk Road” | 高大伟 在美国华盛顿人的博客

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