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://220.127.116.11/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”.
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