The notoriously powerful military junta of Burma is loosening its grip. In an uncharacteristic move, former army general Thein Sein, who came to power in March, thwarted the Chinese-funded $3.6 billion Myitsone dam project in the state of Kachin, relenting to the continuous pressure from the Burmese citizens in that region. The Burmese government has recently released more than 6,000 jailed political prisoners. The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to pay a visit to a country that has been closed to outside world for more than 50 years. These events indicate that Burma maybe inching toward a democratic reform.
But much more need to be accomplished, tested, and proved. For example, Burma’s political structure is ruled unilaterally by the military, which also control its economy. Its opposition parties are weak. But with Aung Suu Kyi out of house arrest, the opposition parties are strengthening their voices. It is too early, however, to predict the impact of the opposition parties on Burma’s current political structure. Burma remains a poor country and its economic infrastructure must be changed with open trade and domestic monetary and fiscal policies.
For the last 50 years, the military junta has ruled Burma with an iron fist and the outside world did little damage to the sovereignty of the country despite economic sanctions. Burma is rich with natural resources like hydropower, natural gas, petroleum, precious stones, and others. The U.S. has renewed its financial and travel sanctions against Burma in 2007. Earlier this year, the European Union (EU) also extended its economic sanctions against Burma.