November 3, 2021

This paper makes a novel contribution by examining the puzzle of one Southeast Asian nation, Myanmar, and its dramatic shift of ‘fortune’ in its international status and the domestic consequences of that shift during the decade of 2010–2020. It highlights how the country’s changing international relations affected its domestic political decision-making process. It puts forth the argument that the amount of international attention the country received since 2011 as the target of competitive courtship between China, United States, and the West in general, and the consequent feeling of being valued as a geostrategic asset, created strong conditions for overconfidence on part of Myanmar’s government and military. This favorable international environment also coincided with perceived progress in democratization domestically. Similar to its past patterns of behavior toward ethnic minorities, the Myanmar military and the government overestimated their likelihood of success in dealing with the Rohingya minority while underestimating the likelihood of punishment by the international community.

Published online: 28 Oct 2021 - -

Enze Han HKU CWP China

Dr. Enze HAN is Associate Professor at the Department of Politics and Public Administration.  His research interests include ethnic politics in China, China's relations with Southeast Asia, especially with Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand, and the politics of state formation in the borderland area between China, Myanmar and Thailand. Dr. Han received a Ph.D in Political Science from the George Washington University in the United States in 2010. Afterwards he was a postdoctoral research fellow in the China and the World Program at Princeton University. During 2015-2016, he was a Friends Founders' Circle Member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, USA. In 2017, he was a fellow at the East Asia Institute in Seoul, South Korea. His research has been supported by the Leverhulme Research Fellowship, and British Council/Newton Fund. Prior to Hong Kong, Dr. HAN was Senior Lecturer in the International Security of East Asia at SOAS, University of London, United Kingdom.

Photo Credit: By John Owens (VOA) - Source article (direct source), Public Domain,