Myanmar’s highest Buddhist authority bars radical nationalist group

Myanmar’s top Buddhist authority banned a hardline monks’ group on Tuesday, raising pressure on extremists after they barred a firebrand monk from public sermons and authorities arrested several Buddhist nationalists. The radical group known by its Burmese initials Ma Ba Tha was declared illegal and “no person or organization” is allowed to use its name, […]

‘Prison Made Me Mature’: says Phyo Min Thein Yangon Chief Minister

Yangon dominates Myanmar. Whilst Naypyidaw, 320km to the north, has been the capital for the past 11 years, this vibrant port city with its traffic-clogged streets, fading colonial splendour and the serene beauty of the Shwedagon Pagoda continues to enthral the nation. As Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) mark […]

China Faces Resistance to a Cherished Theme of Its Foreign Policy

ON APRIL 10th a freight train pulled out of Barking station in London carrying Scotch whisky, baby milk and engineering equipment. It arrived in Yiwu in eastern China (see map) nearly three weeks later, completing the second-longest round-trip train journey ever made (after Yiwu to Madrid and back, a record set in 2014). It lopped […]

Analysis: Opportunity Knocks in Myanmar Health Market

After a visit to Myanmar, Jiadi Yu, principal investment officer at the IFC in Hong Kong, is optimistic about the country’s health market. Myanmar is an exciting place for investors. The new government led by Aung San Suu Kyi is encouraging private sector development and foreign investment. The country is gradually opening itself up for […]

Yangon University is modelled on Oxford, but there are no dreaming spires

Walking around Yangon, though there are the affluent areas and fast food restaurants that exist in nearly all big cities, these areas are few and far between. Poverty pervades in this former capital city to a greater extent than in many of its Southeast Asian counterparts. The military regime, though removed in 2013, has had […]

New Myanmar oil pipeline bolsters China’s energy security

The opening of an oil pipeline through Myanmar is a big step forward for China’s energy security, reducing the major importer’s reliance on shipments through waters where the U.S. exerts strong influence. Chinese President Xi Jinping and Htin Kyaw, his counterpart from Myanmar, agreed Monday to activate an oil pipeline stretching roughly 770km from Kyaukpyu, […]

Aung San Suu Kyi: Interviewed on BBC on 5 April 2017

Aung San Suu Kyi has denied there is ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar, despite widespread reports of abuses. In an exclusive interview with the BBC, the Nobel peace prize winner acknowledged problems in Rakhine state, where most Rohingya people live. But she said ethnic cleansing was “too strong” a term to […]

Yangon lacking resilience to face future disasters

Nothing is normal these days when it comes to Myanmar’s weather. In Yangon, residents talk about a time when they used to wear sweaters or scarves in the colder months, when the early morning was crisp and people would exercise to stay warm. Not anymore. Yet, this rise in temperature is just a small indicator […]

The land of the $20 smartphone

“This one $40, this one $30 … that one $20!” The owner of the street stall, a man of about 30 years wearing a traditional longyi tied around his waist, is gesturing at a phone that looks, to my eyes, like a mid-range Android phone. It bears the brand Singtech, a brand among myriad others […]

How Did Myanmar’s Reforms Change Its Relations With China?

I first visited Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) in February 2013, two months after then-U.S. President Barack Obama’s landmark visit to that country. One thing that has been inscribed in my fond memories of the visit is that many street vendors in Yangon (formerly Rangoon) were hawking T-shirts with Obama’s headshot and a caption above […]