Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Want to change Burma?: Study Her Neighbors

Quote of the Day:

"There has never been anything like the Chinese industrial revolution, thegreat transformation from basic needs centrally-controlled Communism into aso-called socialist market economy. But it's a patchy revolution: huge parts of this vast country have yet toexperience fully the gale of modernisation blowing through Shanghai, Beijingand the south."

- Peter Day, BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service, in "Hi-tech revolution inChina's rustbelt"

This FBC Posting contains:

1). Compiler's remark, Want to change Burma?: Study her Neighbors
2). The view from Qingdao, BBC, 2005/05/09
3). Hi-tech revolution in China's rustbelt, BBC, 2005/03/10

Compiler's Remark
Want to change Burma?: Study her Neighbors

The relations between China and Burma go back to Pagan period (11th and 13th century).

Historians still debate as to what caused the fall of Pagan.

The conventional school argues that Pagan was sacked by the invading and superior Mongol forces of Kublai Khan. Some such as Michael Aung-Thwin of the East-West Center in Hawaii counter, however, that the fall was caused primarily by the structural tensions within this early Burmese power center, wherein the Buddhist Order caused the dwindling of resources, both material and other types, which could have been put to use for early state building purposes. Aung-Thwin also raised serious doubt about the conventional scholarship which accepts the rise of Shan power following the demise of Pagan (14th - 16th century) as fact. In a series of articles on Burmese historiography, Aung Thwin argues that the rise ofShan political power is one of the biggest myths in Burma's national history. According to his research findings, ethnic origin of the three Shan princes who are believed to have set up a Shan reign after Pagan was not verifiable or never been verified. In addition to pointing to the lack of any admissible or credible evidence on which the claims of Shan reignin Burma were based, Aung Thwin asked sociologically how it could have been possible forBurmese or Myanmar literature to flourish to an unprecedented degree under3-centuries rule of Shan rule, given that domination and control of one ethno-linguistic group over the others, by definition, do not generally stop at the boundaries of direct politics.

However this internal issue in Burma's national history is resolved, it is an issue that is of interest, more or less, to professional historians, and it has no immediate or future relevance to real politik in Burma/Myanmar.

What is relevant is the role Shan plateu served as strategic buffer for both Chinese and Burman monarchs bent on empire buildings. To return to one of the most relevant issues of our time, if you are a Burmese, Burma's relations with her giant neighbor will need to be recognized as the one most important for the historical development of Burma violently interupted bythe rise (and fall) of European Colonialism in its classical form. China herself was subjected to Western domination and confronted with the efforts by various Western powers to 'divide it up.'

Both countries shared somewhat similar fate as weak states steeped in old waysof thinking and fractured by internal strife, which the newly emerging Western colonial powers succeeded in subjugating, in one form or another.

The wise, if undemocratic leadership in Beijing - still operating as nominally Communist - is developing serious knowledge/intellectual base to serve the country'slong-term interests.

To be sure, there are still serious problems in China - uneven economic development and cultural transformation among different regions, the increasing income disparity between the haves and the have-nots, and industries seething with potential for labor unrest, etc.

However, China has, beyond the shadow of a doubt, taken off, both economically and intellectually, with unstoppable political and sociological ramifications for the Chinese society at large. China's transformation is being felt not simply within her boundaries - but all over the world - as the articles in this posting point out. Of the Burmese politicians, General Ne Win was the only one who paid serious attention consistently to the developments within the giant neighbor. In an interview with this writer 10 years ago, the Burmese historian Dr. Kyaw Thetsaid, as a sign of compliment to the general, Ne Win borrowed - and actually read - the former's doctoral thesis on Burma-China historical relations. During his 26-years reign, whatever the internal problems and failures his leadership and policies caused, the General navigated the country cleverly away from any direct confrontation with Mao's totalitarian regime inBeijing. At the time, Beijing was supporting openly all communist undergroundmovements throughout South East Asia, including the Burmese communists.

Today China is consciously transforming herself, and the top leadership is to be credited for this transformation, in spite of their continuing authoritariangrip on society, politically speaking.

We the Burmese will need to pay attention to our ancient neighbor which ourcountry has had difficult relations at times. For changes in China will be incomparably more impactful on our country vis-a-vis changes at 10 Downing or the White House or who presides the European Union at any given moment.

If we are wiser, we should even begin to learn Chinese, despite whatever national pride we may feel about our language. If China, unlike the now defunct USSR, remains a cohensive polity in years ahead our country's fate is bound up with that of China.

Intellectually and ideologically, we should look at Europe as the happening place in today's world where new ideas in many fields and new types ofgovernance are being explored and tried. Economically and politically, China may be studied as a 'model' - for lack of a better term - for change,especially for those whose categorically failed revolutions - spiritually orpolitically - left a bitter taste in the collective mouth of the proverbial 'masses.'

Of course, no one model can be imported, without due regards to the specificities of our country.

Revolution or evolution, leadership of a qualitatively different sort is going to be needed, if Burma/Myanmar is going to be able to move forward. If those at the top are not cut to provide the kind of leadership necessary for state building, then the task falls on 'ordinary' Burmese.

One of the most fruitable ways to remain useful as Burmese expatriates or exiles is to study societies in successful transitional PROCESSES such asChina, Thailand, Vietnam and so on. The fatal mistake we have made as amovement is to have romanticized Nelson Mandela's South Africa or Gandhi's India while those who could teach us a thing or two about social and economictransformation are just around the corner.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/business/4508287.stm

The view from Qingdao

By Peter Day Presenter, BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/business/4508287.stm

Published: 2005/05/09 23:41:26 GMT© BBC MMV

============================================================================Work in Progress is the title of this new exploration of the big trendsupheaving the world of work as we steam further into the twenty-first century. And it is a work in progress, influenced and defined by my encounters as Ireport on trends in business and organisations all over the world. Peter Day ============================================================================ Hi-tech revolution in China's rustbelt

By Peter Day BBC World Service 'Global Business' presenter in north-east China

. Story from BBC NEWS:http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/business/4336453.stm

Published: 2005/03/10 15:35:41 GMT© BBC MMV