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China’s Strategic Outreach to Myanmar in NLD Era: New Progress but More Challenges


Note n°23 de l’Observatoire de la Chine, par PENG Nian (PhD Candidate, Hong Kong Baptist University / Visiting Research Fellow, Center for Myanmar Studies, Sichuan University)

China has made new progress on advancing its strategic interests in Myanmar by promoting many strategic projects since the National League of Democracy (NLD) took office in March 2016. These mainly include the opening of the Sino-Myanmar oil pipeline in April 2017, the new agreement on the construction of the Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone as well as the border economic cooperation zone in April 2017, and the consensus on building a Sino- Myanmar economic corridor in November 2017. However, China’s ambitions in Myanmar have been challenged by various internal and external factors. Internally, Chinese new proposed projects in Myanmar have been adversely affected by the poor policy coordination between Chinese central government and Yunnan local governments. Externally, Myanmar elites’ deep concerns with Chinese strategic projects’ impact on national security, the strong anti-Chinese sentiments in Myanmar local communities, the rising ethnic conflicts and religious tensions in northern and western Myanmar, as well as the low administrative efficiency of the new Myanmar government have jointly contributed to the slow progress of Chinese projects. Given this, this article argues that there is a long way for China to finalize these strategic projects and thus to completely achieve its main strategic goals in Myanmar.

  • Introduction
  • China’s strategic goals in Myanmar
  • New development of China’s strategic projects in Myanmar
  • Great challenges of China’s strategic projects in Myanmar
  • Conclusion