Integrity Legal

2nd June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has expressed some concern about the possibility of the Union of Myanmar (also sometimes colloquially referred to as Burma) becoming Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). In order to provide further insight it may be best to quote directly from the website of Channel News Asia, ChannelNewsAsia.com:

SINGAPORE: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday urged ASEAN to openly discuss Myanmar’s political and human rights problems before the country takes its turn as chair of the regional bloc. “Looking at the discussion about Myanmar and its interest in taking over the presidency of ASEAN, I am a little bit concerned,” she told a forum in Singapore, a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Merkel told an audience of government officials, foreign diplomats and academics that “the present leadership of Myanmar has not really proved that they are serious about embarking on the road of democracy…”

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The Union of Myanmar has been in the news a great deal recently as that country recently held elections ushering in something of a new era in Myanmar’s politics although there are some who argue that there has been little real change resulting from the aforementioned elections. That stated, it is this blogger’s personal opinion that any progress under the circumstances would be a good thing. Frequent readers of this blog may note that Myanmar was recently rumored to be pondering the opening of a stock exchange although that has yet to see fruition.

Meanwhile, the United States and China appear poised for cooperation in matters pertaining to ASEAN as a recent article on the Voice of America website pointed out. To quote directly from the aforementioned article:

A top State Department official says that as the United States works to deepen its engagement in Southeast Asia, working closely together with China is a key part of that effort. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell says that one of the the most important things that the United States is seeking to do this year, both at the ASEAN regional forum and the East Asia Summit, is show the United States deep commitment to working with China…As the United States works to find common ground with China, the world’s second largest economy and a rising Asia-Pacific military power, Campbell says Washington will be seeking to highlight areas of common pursuit with Beijing and find specific projects the two countries can work with each other in the region…

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It is good to see that American officials are making an effort to become more engaged in the ASEAN region especially with the cooperation of the Chinese since combined efforts could yield significant benefits in the form of better diplomatic and trade relations for all concerned. In a previous posting it was noted that Chinese officials plan to incorporate a high speed rail link into the current rail system employed in the Kingdom of Thailand so that there would be a contiguous rail link between Thailand, Laos, and Greater China. In addition, it was also announced that Bangkok will likely soon see a Chinese Trade Complex which is to be designed to provide a platform for the trade of goods in Thailand. How all of these developments will ultimately play out remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: there is room for optimism in a current analysis of ASEAN developments.

For related information please see: US-Thai Treaty of Amity.


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