US is trying to push itself into the Asia-Pacific region to contain the spreading influence of China. The rapid restoration of full relations, just 6 weeks after Hillary Clintonâ€™s visit signifies that. It is easy to see good relations with Myanmar would serve USâ€™ strategic interests. The US will try to open Myanmar to nuclear inspectors, and take it out of Chinaâ€™s orbit.
US businesses also have significant interest in the natural resources of the country. However, Myanmarâ€™s interests are less clear. It may want to balance China influence, and a genuine desire to end its international isolation could be behind the reforms being carried out by President Thein Sein. It has already halted a controversial dam being built with Chinaâ€™s assistance. But it is difficult to see a definite goal beyond these hazy benefits. Elections are promised for the future in which Aung San Suu Kyi would participate. That she would win a substantial number of seats even if she does not outright sweep the elections is a foregone conclusion. How do the generals who have ruled Myanmar with an iron fist for such a long time benefit? Or is there some secret deal in the works between US and Myanmar that we still have no knowledge of?
More pertinently for India, however the tango between US and Myanmar pans out, India we see its own influence diminish, which is rather ironic since India had put its moral standing in jeopardy by voting against sanctions on Myanmar at the height of its crackdown on peaceful protests.
The Associated Press has reported that the United States of America has decided to restore full diplomatic ties with Myanmar following the rapid reforms which include a ceasefire with local insurgents and the release of political prisoners.
Myanmar has released 651 prisoners, including leaders of democratic movements, ethnic minorities journalists and a former prime minister. The release of prisoners who had been incarcerated for political reasons is one of the major demands of the US. It wants Myanmar to release 1000 prisoners. President Obama showed alacrity in welcoming the move.
In a statement he said that the release of prisoners was “a substantial step forward for democratic reform.â€
â€œMuch more remains to be done to meet the aspirations of the Burmese people,” he said, “but the United States is committed to continuing our engagement with the government.”