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Kobayashi, Yuka and King, Josephine (2022) 'Myanmar's strategy in the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor: a failure in hedging?' International Affairs, 98 (3).

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Abstract

This article examines Myanmar's hedging strategies in China's Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), a key component of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Myanmar has avoided being overly reliant on China by strategically hedging and diversifying its foreign relations with other countries in the region. However, Myanmar's ability to hedge is compromised by its domestic fragmentation, caused by the protracted civil war and rising civil–military tensions. We focus on the two advanced projects in CMEC, the Muse–Mandalay railway and Kyaukphyu deep seaport, and have conducted qualitative, semi-structured interviews with key actors involved in China–Myanmar relations (2016–2021) under the National League for Democracy (NLD). Through the fieldwork findings, we problematize the assumption in the hedging literature which takes for granted a country's competence to act strategically in their foreign policy. Our findings from the Myanmar case suggest that the state's level of fragmentation and capability to hedge are inversely proportional. The multiple actors in Myanmar's political space complicate its China policy and limit its ability to hedge effectively. This is augmented by the military coup in February 2021, which further fragmented the country, compromising Myanmar's China policy even further, making hedging a less viable framework to examine Myanmar's China strategy.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Politics & International Studies
Subjects: J Political Science > JQ Political institutions (Asia, Africa, Australia)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
ISSN: 00205850
Copyright Statement: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in International Affairs following peer review. The version of record is available at: https://doi.org/10.1093/ia/iiac049. Re-use is subject to the publisher’s terms and conditions
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.1093/ia/iiac049
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2022 08:31
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/37090

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