from Asia Unbound

A Review of Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia

December 15, 2011

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Villagers pan for gold from the Irrawaddy river near the town of Myitkyina in northern Myanmar. Myitkyina has been an important trading town between China and Myanmar since ancient times.
Villagers pan for gold from the Irrawaddy river near the town of Myitkyina in northern Myanmar. Myitkyina has been an important trading town between China and Myanmar since ancient times (Soe Zeya Tun/Courtesy Reuters).

In the midst of what appears to be Myanmar’s year of reform, Burmese author and historian Thant Myint-U, by far the best-known – and most controversial – Burmese scholar, has put out a timely book. Where China Meets India continues the argument he made in his last book, The River of Lost Footsteps, that decades of Western isolation of Myanmar have proven counterproductive, and that foreign countries should instead engage with the country.  He further argues that Burma’s growing strategic significance, as a bridge between the two Asian giants, and a source of oil, gas, and other natural resources, means that, even if the West does not engage, the country will become increasingly integrated internationally, and potentially prosperous.

In this week’s issue of The Nation, I have an extended review of Thant Myint-U’s book. You can read it here.

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