Sino-Burmese Ties under Fire: Red Herring or a Sign of Myanmar Rebalancing?

Sino-Burmese Ties under Fire: Red Herring or a Sign of Myanmar Rebalancing?

Tuesday, 21 April 2015 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm
Arundel house, 13-15 Arundel Street, Temple Place, London, WC2 3DX
Hervé Lemahieu (Research Associate for Political Economy and Security, IISS)
Southeast Asia Events in Oxford

Since February, sustained clashes between Kokang rebels (returning from exile in China) and the Myanmar military in northeast Shan State have resulted in the one of the largest refugee crises on China’s borders since the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War. The conflict has displaced approximately 100,000 people, 60,000 of whom, according to China’s state media, have crossed into southern Yunnan province. To complicate matters, Myanmar military airstrikes strayed into Chinese territory last month, prompting China’s Central Military Commission to warn of retaliatory measures.

Border dynamics feed directly into mutual suspicions and a sense of strategic vulnerability in Beijing and Naypyidaw. Beijing’s posture also reflects a deep ambivalence towards the political and security dynamics at work in Myanmar, as well as a fear that it has lost its relative influence and standing there amid the country’s political transition. Yet, against this background, Hervé Lemahieu will argue that the flare-up is neither an unprecedented turning point in bilateral ties, nor necessarily a sign of a wider re-calibration in regional geopolitics.

Hervé Lemahieu pursues a research focus on transitional politics and the role of the military and non-state armed groups in the Asia-Pacific. His analysis has been quoted in the Financial Times and featured in the Nikkei Asian Review, among other publications. Prior to joining the IISS, he was responsible for analysis of the Mekong sub-region at Oxford Analytica. He grew up in Myanmar and has worked in conflict-affected border areas in northeast Shan State.

This meeting will be chaired by Alexander Nicoll, Senior Fellow for Geo-economics and Defence, IISS. It will take place in the Trafalgar Room at Arundel House.

Please join us for tea and coffee from 12:30.

Please note that for security reasons you must RSVP for this event to: Kevin O’Sullivan

Arundel House, 13–15 Arundel Street, Temple Place, London WC2R 3DX


**The following events on politics in Myanmar next week are being organised by the Global South Unit at the LSE International Relations Department.


1) Public Lecture: “Myanmar: politics, pragmatism, and foreign policy”

Date: Wednesday 22 April 2015
Time: 6.30-8pm
Venue: Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House
Speaker:  Professor David I Steinberg

Professor Steinberg will explore longer term past governance trends in Myanmar, their interplay with Myanmar’s international relations, and factors influencing such relations after the 2015 elections.

David I Steinberg is Distinguished Professor of Asian Studies Emeritus, Georgetown University.


2) Public roundtable discussion: “Myanmar’s 2015 Elections: hopes expectations, and certitudes”

Date: Thursday 23 April 2015
Time: 12.30-2pm
Venue: Hong Kong Theatre, Clement House
Speakers: Professor David I Steinberg, Min Zin, Myat Thu, Hein Myat Thu Htet

The upcoming general elections in Myanmar are a litmus test for the country’s transition process. This roundtable will discuss pre-election strategising and post-election scenarios and implications.

David I Steinberg is Distinguished Professor of Asian Studies Emeritus, Georgetown University; Min Zin is a regular contributor to The Foreign Policy’s Transitions blog and PhD candidate, University of California, Berkeley; Myat Thu is Director and co-founder of the Yangon School of Political Science; Hein Myat Thu Htet is foundation doctor at the New Cross Hospital, Wolverhampton.

3) Photo Exhibition: A View from the Border: everyday lives in Burma’s conflict zones in times of transition

Date: Monday 13 April - Friday 8 May 2015
Time: 10am-8pm
Venue: Atrium Gallery, Old Building


This photo exhibition portrays Burma’s conflict-ridden borderlands. How does the country’s wider transition affect the everyday lives of ethnic minorities, including displaced communities and insurgents? (organised in association with LSE Arts and funded by LSE IRD)


There will be an opening reception on Monday 20 April from 7pm-9pm.