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
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。


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

About 高大伟 David Cowhig

Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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1 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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