Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia
By Thant Myint-U
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011, 384 pp.
Thant, a former UN official, interweaves reflections on the past and future of Myanmar (also known as Burma) with a sharply observed account of his travels on both sides of the country’s borders with India and China. Myanmar is historically and culturally close to India, but trade between the two countries is surprisingly limited and their political ties are thin. By contrast, the boom in China’s Yunnan Province has boosted Myanmar’s economy and brought the country closer to China, which covets a pathway to the Bay of Bengal, an important shipping hub. According to Thant, the military regime in Myanmar has a firm grip on most of the country, and sanctions have served only to deprive Western democracies of any influence. In his view, Myanmar’s future is roads, railways, pipelines, and hydropower transmission lines, accompanied by a consumer revolution that will make the country “China’s California.”