Contact: Roland Watson, roland@dictatorwatch.org


November 2, 2011

Please forward.

Please find below the introduction document for a conference at Georgetown University on Friday: China-Myanmar Relations: The Dilemmas of Mutual Dependence.

From this document a number of observations about the conference can be made:

First, it is not about democracy, either in China or Burma. Rather, it is about "strategic" considerations. What this means for Beijing is "the success of Chinese industry," and "stability."

The strategic considerations for Burma are left unstated. However, the implication from the conference organizers is that it has been wrong for the United States to focus on democracy and human rights for the country. Strategic considerations for Burma therefore entail continuing to deny democracy, and to achieve a similar industrial competitiveness, by opening up to economic development.

The conference backers are Chevron, the U.S. energy company whose operations in Burma fund its military regime, and Caterpillar, the manufacturer of earth-moving equipment. Both of these companies are clearly frustrated over their inability to participate in the pillage of Burma. Chevron is there, but it cannot expand beyond its current operations. Caterpillar, because of U.S. sanctions, has no proper foothold at all (although I would bet that many Caterpillar machines are in the country.)

The real mutual dependence referred to in the title is as follows: The Communist Party of China cannot afford for Burma to become democratic, as this would threaten its own rule. So, the question then becomes: How can the dictatorships of the two countries increase their cooperation on economic projects, and with industrial participation from the West, while continuing to deny their respective pro-democracy movements?

It is an appalling act for Georgetown University to sponsor such a forum. Moreover, it is despicable that the University would allow Chevron, which is complicit in crimes against humanity in Burma, to provide blood money for the meeting. If at all possible, pro-democracy activists in Washington should protest at the conference.

China-Myanmar Relations: The Dilemmas of Mutual Dependence
A Conference

Friday, November 4, 2011

Georgetown University Conference Center (The Leavey Center)
Washington, D.C.

RSVP: http://bit.ly/n4TAKN


The conference will seek to draw public, academic, and policymaker attention to the dynamic and complex relationship between China and Myanmar, both objects of U.S. policy in the Asia region. This relationship, and the future course it will take, has strong implications for the strategic interests of India, Thailand, ASEAN, Japan, and the United States.


This conference is sponsored by Georgetown University in collaboration with CNA, and with the generous support of Georgetown University, CNA, Chevron, and Caterpillar.

Importance and Implications

Myanmar (Burma) is a nexus in the strategic relationship between China and India, a relationship that has been explosive in the past (1962) and is edging toward increasing economic competition. The Sino-Burmese relationship is also critical to ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations) as well as to China's role in Southeast Asia. The success of Chinese industry, dependent on a continual search for natural resources such as gas, oil, hydroelectric power, mining, and timber, is linked to continuing employment and therefore to internal Chinese stability. Myanmar's importance to China relates not only to these strategic factors, but also because access to these elements in and through Myanmar lessens Chinese dependence on the choke point of the Malacca Straits through which 80 percent of imported Chinese energy passes. These strategic considerations have not been part of the public discourse on U.S.-Myanmar policy, which has been focused on human rights and democracy.

Forum Importance

The United States has engaged in a policy of isolation, sanctions, and "regime change" toward Burma/Myanmar since the coup of 1988 and the failed elections of 1990. This policy has not achieved its stated objective-to remove the military from power. The Obama administration, after extensive reviews, determined to modify that policy and pursue "pragmatic engagement"—sanctions and higher-level dialogue. Little tangible has occurred in terms of meeting U.S. objectives, yet meanwhile in only two generations Chinese influence has become paramount in Myanmar, prompting a reversal in Indian policy and increasing concerns about China's heightened role in Southeast Asia. The issue is of major policy interest to the U.S., to our allies Thailand and Japan, to India, and to ASEAN, with which the U.S. signed its Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in 2009. Myanmar is not a client state of China, but the relationship creates dilemmas for both as dependencies at different levels and among different groups shift.

The Sino-Burmese relationship is complex, involving a number of layers of sometimes-antithetical interests both in China and Myanmar. Beijing, Yunnan Province, various Chinese counties, ministries, and Chinese private sector institutions as well as Naypyidaw and Burmese minorities along the China border all interact, creating policy dilemmas that are not well understood or even documented. This forum will help educate the varied communities that should understand these issues.

A conference report publication (including papers) is planned as a special edition of the Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs (Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg).

PROGRAM [Draft 10-11-2011]

8:30 – 9:00: Continental Breakfast

9:00 – 9:10: Welcome
David Steinberg, Georgetown University
David Finkelstein, CNA China Studies

9:10 – 9:30: Introduction: Congressional Views
To Be Announced

9:30 – 11:00: Panel I - Strategic Issues & Interests
Chair: David I. Steinberg, Georgetown University
Chinese and Alternative Perspectives
Liu Xuecheng, China Institute of International Studies
Li Chenyang, Yunnan National University
Robert Sutter, George Washington University
Tom Kramer, Transnational Institute

11:00 – 11:15: Coffee Break

11:15 – 12:45: Panel II – Continuing from Panel I
Chair: Mary Callahan, University of Washington
Myanmar/Minority Perspectives
Kyaw Yin Hlaing, City University of Hong Kong
Tin Maung Maung Than, ISEAS, Singapore

Regional Interests
Pavin Chachavalpongpun, ISEAS, Singapore
Toshikaza Okuya, METI, JETRO
Sumit Ganguly, Indiana University

12:45 – 1:45: Luncheon & Distinguished Speaker: Ambassador Derek Mitchell

1:45 – 3:00: Panel III –Perspectives on China-Myanmar Relations
Chair: Lex Rieffel, Brookings Institution
Fan Hongwei, Xiamen University
Bronson Percival, SAIS, Johns Hopkins University
Yun Sun, Brookings Institution
Min Zin, University of California, Berkeley

3:00 – 3:15: Coffee Break

3:15 – 5:15: Panel IV - Impact on Western & other Asian Policies
Chair: David Finkelstein, CNA China Studies
Michael McDevitt, CNA
Ian Holliday, Hong Kong University
Joseph Yun, U.S. Department of State
Marvin Ott, SAIS, Johns Hopkins University
Michael Green, Georgetown University

5:30 – 6:30: Wine & Cheese Reception, Leavey Center


Callahan, Mary
Associate Professor, Jackson School of International Studies
University of Washington, Seattle

Chachavalpongpun, Pavin
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

Fan, Hongwei
Associate Professor, Center for Southeast Asian Studies
Xiamen University, China

Finkelstein, David
Vice President & Director, CNA China Studies

Ganguly, Sumit
Professor of Political Science and Ranbindranath Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations
Indiana University, Bloomington

Green, Michael
Associate Professor, School of Foreign Service
Georgetown University

Holliday, Ian
Professor and Dean of Social Sciences
The University of Hong Kong

Kramer, Tom
Researcher, Drugs & Democracy Programme
Transnational Institute (TNI), Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Kyaw Yin Hlaing
Assistant Professor, Department of Asian and International Studies
City University of Hong Kong

Li, Chenyang
Professor and Director, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies
Yunnan National University (Kunming), China

Liu, Xuecheng
Senior Research Fellow
China Institute of International Studies, Beijing, China

McDevitt, Michael (Rear Admiral Ret.)
Senior Fellow
CNA Strategic Studies

Min Zin
University of California, Berkeley

Mitchell, Derek
Ambassadorial Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma
U.S. Department of State

Okuya, Toshikazu
Special Adviser, METI, Director, JETRO, New York

Ott, Marvin
Adjunct Professor and Visiting Research Scholar
School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University

Percival, Bronson
Professorial Lecturer, Southeast Asian Studies
School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University

Rieffel, Lex
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Global Economy and Development
The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC

Steinberg, David I.
Distinguished Professor of Asian Studies, School of Foreign Service
Georgetown University

Sun, Yun
China Analyst
The Brookings Institution, Washington, DC

Sutter, Robert
Professor of Practice of International Affairs
Elliot School of International Affairs, George Washington University

Tin Maung Maung Than
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

Yun, Joseph
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
U.S. Department of State

Maxwell Harrington, Georgetown University