from Asia Unbound

Burma’s Reforms Gathering Pace

October 14, 2011

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Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

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Police assist a newly released prisoner in the meeting hall of Insein Prison in Yangon.
Police assist a newly released prisoner in the meeting hall of Insein Prison in Yangon. (Soe Zeya Tun/Courtesy Reuters)

In the past week, the cautious reforms launched this summer and early fall by the Burmese government of President Thein Sein have gathered pace, and even seasoned observers of Burma -- which is hardly an easy country to analyze -- have to admit that they really do not know where the country’s political path is now headed. These reforms, as I noted earlier this week, seem to be more substantial than any in decades past: Thein Sein has notably not only freed prisoners but also taken a dramatic decision to halt construction on a China-funded dam, both angering Beijing and showing average Burmese that he was responding to their concerns.

In the London Review of Books, I analyze the potential for a ’Burmese Autumn’ of reform and discuss why, against all hope, some Burmese and foreign observers are starting to believe that this time is different from all of Burma’s past stalled political changes.

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