Myanmar broadens its foreign relations
This chapter deals with former Myanmar President Thein Sein’s efforts to counterbalance Beijing’s sway over Yangon and attempts by the European Union (EU) to identify a role for itself in the region. It focuses on an important marker of the Myanmar-EU connection, which is provided by Sein’s undertaking of diplomatic contacts in 2013 with the European capitals and the EU. It questions whether Sein was possibly attempting to free the country from subjection of other powers, specifically China, and offers an insight into Beijing-Yangon relations. Sein’s slightly distancing Myanmar from influential China had the effect of encouraging activity on Myanmar at the EU level. The chapter explores the EU’s policies on Yangon and whether these attempted to respond to Sein’s search for assistance. It argues that by supporting the 2016 Special Partnership for Democracy, Peace and Prosperity with Myanmar, the EU might have aspired to further some of its own goals in the region.