ANALYSIS: Suu Kyi’s election win to boost China-Myanmar ties, hasten economic recovery

HONG KONG, Nov 12 – The imminent victory of the ruling party in Myanmar’s general elections will help consolidate bilateral relations between Myanmar and China, with analysts expecting China to play an important role in its neighbor’s economic recovery.

The National League for Democracy, or NLD, led by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, is projecting a huge win from the elections on Sunday. Party spokesman Monywa Aung Shin said the NLD has captured “enough seats to form the government, or perhaps even more than needed”.

The Union Election Commission is yet to publish the official results.

More than 5,000 candidates had vied for the 1,117 parliamentary seats in the elections. The commission said 47 representatives have been elected to parliament at three levels as of Tuesday, with the NLD securing 44 parliamentary seats, Xinhua reported.

Suu Kyi, who guides the country’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, defended her position as representative of Yangon’s Kawmhu constituency.

For the trajectory of China-Myanmar relations,”those dynamics are well-established”, said David Scott Mathieson, a Yangon-based independent analyst.

Mathieson said bilateral relations were cemented by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit in January and the signing of several agreements that aim to shore up key projects under the Belt and Road Initiative.

One of these projects is the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, which will connect Yunnan province in Southwest China to the Myanmar cities of Mandalay, the country’s biggest city Yangon, and the Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone in Rakhine state.

The two neighbors marked the 70th anniversary of their establishment of diplomatic ties.

A boost for trade

China and Myanmar have also helped each other in mitigating the impact of the pandemic. Myanmar donated rice and medical supplies to China, while Beijing has sent medical experts and laboratory testing equipment to Myanmar.

China and Myanmar are expected to strengthen economic and trade relations, with China seen investing more in Myanmar through the Belt and Road Initiative.

Dereck Aw, lead analyst for Myanmar at global consultancy firm Control Risks, sees the NLD-led government maintaining the country’s “stable and cooperative” relationship with China.

Aw said that with the elections over, the new government has to address the economic impact of the epidemic. As of Tuesday, the virus had infected more than 61,900 people and claimed more than 1,400 lives in Myanmar, according to the World Health Organization.

“An immediate concern for the new government is to manage the economic consequences of the pandemic. It will do this mainly by spurring employment and investments in energy and infrastructure-two sectors where Chinese capital is a major driver,” Aw said.

He sees China becoming an “increasingly important stakeholder” in Myanmar over the coming years, as the Southeast Asian country works toward rebuilding its pandemic-hit economy.

The NLD rose to power after it won 390 seats in the 2015 elections.

Analysts were not surprised with NLD’s strong performance in the latest polls, noting its leader’s popularity among the Myanmar electorate.

“People trust Suu Kyi’s leadership,” said Khin Ma Ma Myo, professor of international relations at the University of Yangon.

She said Myanmar voters see Suu Kyi’s as the “sincere daughter” of Myanmar’s national hero General Aung San and as a strong, charismatic and wise leader who can “solve all issues”.

Aw of Control Risks said even the pandemic did not dent her popularity.

Instead, the pandemic demonstrated the leadership of Suu Kyi as she was able “to inspire confidence that her government is doing everything it can to manage the crisis”.

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Source : The Star

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