CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

Posts by Category

Showing posts for "Aung San Suu Kyi"

Hillary Clinton Meeting With Thein Sein Major Success

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Myanmar's president Thein Sein addresses the sixty-seventh United Nations General Assembly at the UN Headquarters in New York. Myanmar's president Thein Sein addresses the sixty-seventh United Nations General Assembly at the UN Headquarters in New York (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters).

As reported yesterday, following a meeting with Myanmar president Thein Sein, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the United States would now be easing the American ban on imports from Myanmar, which will be enormously beneficial to the Myanmar economy. This follows a similar move by the European Union, which now has allowed Myanmar to join the Generalized System of Preferences scheme it has for poor countries to access the EU market.

Though the announcement was important, just as important was the fact that Clinton met with Thein Sein during his trip to the United States —the United Nations General Assembly period is packed with bilaterals, and it would not have been hard for her to skip one more bilateral—and publicly handed Myanmar a reward that reflected positively on President Thein Sein. Read more »

Suu Kyi’s U.S. Visit: Overshadowing the Real Powers in Myanmar

by Joshua Kurlantzick
U.S. president Obama speaks with Myanmar opposition leader Suu Kyi during their meeting in the White House. U.S. president Obama speaks with Myanmar opposition leader Suu Kyi during their meeting in the White House (Kevin Lamarque/Courtesy Reuters).

Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s two-week visit to the United States has thus far proven highly successful, at least on the terms understood in advance. As she did in Europe, Suu Kyi has wowed audiences in the United States, on a level that can be compared to no one other than the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela for the awe that people feel in meeting her. She has received award after award, and graciously sat for more policy meetings, roundtables, events, and conferences than any Washington official would ever want to endure while jetlagged.

Without a doubt, Suu Kyi’s relationship with the United States, as well as with other democratic powers, is important for Myanmar’s future, and critical to increased aid flows to the country. Read more »

Review of New Biography of Aung San Suu Kyi

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Aung San Suu Kyi, chairman of Rule of Law and Peace and Stability Committee of House, attends a meeting of the committee at Yangon Division Parliament in Yangon. Aung San Suu Kyi, chairman of Rule of Law and Peace and Stability Committee of House, attends a meeting of the committee at Yangon Division Parliament in Yangon (Soe Zeya Tun/Courtesy Reuters).

Although Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has attracted numerous biographers over the past twenty years, the new biography of her by longtime British journalist Peter Popham is surely the most thorough and, in some ways, most critical of Suu Kyi, who is now making the transition from longtime opposition leader to member of Parliament and leading ally of the Myanmar president. The switch has not been easy for Suu Kyi, a challenge many former opposition leaders, from Lech Walesa to Nelson Mandela, have faced before. Read more »

Review of Peter Popham’s Biography of Aung San Suu Kyi

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi walk in the rose garden at Chequers, the Prime Minister's official country residence in Buckinghamshire, southern England June 22, 2012. Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi walk in the rose garden at Chequers, the Prime Minister's official country residence in Buckinghamshire, southern England June 22, 2012 (Peter Nicholls/Courtesy Reuters).

Over the past week, Aung San Suu Kyi has been on a global tour, finally accepting the accolades she won but was unable to receive in person, meeting with longtime supporters in Europe, and giving what is said to be the first speech by a foreign woman to both Houses of Parliament. Yet when she returns to Myanmar, she will have to continue her struggle to reconcile her longstanding role as opposition leader and conscience of democracy with her new role in helping, along with President Thein Sein, promote the reform process. It is not an easy balance to strike, and for a thorough understanding of Suu Kyi’s life and philosophy, Peter Popham’s new biography The Lady and the Peacock is invaluable. Read more »

Disturbing Signs of Myanmar’s Reforms Coming Undone

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Myanmar's President Thein Sein (pictured) abruptly canceled his visit to the recent World Economic Forum in Bangkok. Myanmar's President Thein Sein (pictured) abruptly canceled his visit to the recent World Economic Forum in Bangkok (Tomoyuki Kaya/Courtesy Reuters).

Over the past two weeks, there have been a number of signs that Myanmar’s fragile reform process, first put on track about a year and a half ago, is facing serious obstacles that, at times, have been papered over. None of these problems alone should derail the reform process, and they are not all exactly linked, but together they could prove significant burdens. Read more »

Aung San Suu Kyi Warns on Investing in Myanmar

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks during the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Bangkok. Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks during the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Bangkok. (Chaiwat Subprasom/Courtesy Reuters)

In a speech today at the World Economic Forum, Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi warned potential investors to the country, which is opening up to business, that the country faced a severe unemployment crises, utterly useless legal protections for investors, severe political problems, and weak infrastructure. Read more »

David Cameron to Visit Myanmar

by Joshua Kurlantzick
British prime minister David Cameron walks beside British Ambassador to Indonesia Mark Canning upon his arrival in Jakarta, April 11, 2012. British prime minister David Cameron walks beside British Ambassador to Indonesia Mark Canning upon his arrival in Jakarta, April 11, 2012. (Beawiharta/Courtesy Reuters)

Press reports today and yesterday confirm that British prime minister David Cameron will visit Myanmar on Friday, as part of a tour through Asia. This will make Cameron the first major Western leader to visit Myanmar in at least two decades, since the 1990 elections, whose results were never recognized internationally. Cameron is supposedly bringing with him a business delegation, as companies are now rushing to get into Myanmar.

In some ways, the United Kingdom is well positioned to be the European country that breaks the ice, leading the end of the European sanctions. Read more »

Myanmar Election Aftermath

by Joshua Kurlantzick
Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi waves toward her supporters after finishing her address during the election campaign at Mon State in Myanmar. Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi waves toward her supporters after finishing her address during the election campaign at Mon State in Myanmar. (Courtesy Reuters)

As the jubilation continues among Burmese democrats, some realities are starting to sink in. The victory in the by-elections, though enormous, will still only give the National League for Democracy (NLD) a small percentage of seats in parliament. The party will still have to contend with dominance by the military’s favored party, and rely on the fragile health of President Thein Sein to help keep the reforms going. In a new piece for The New Republic, I analyze the election aftermath. You can read the piece here. Read more »

Suu Kyi, NLD, Sweep to Victory in By-Elections

by Joshua Kurlantzick
A man shows a phone with a picture of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as election results are revealed on the screen in front of the head office of the National League for Democracy in Yangon April 1, 2012. Myanmar voted on Sunday in its third election in half a century. A man shows a phone with a picture of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, as election results are revealed on the screen in front of the head office of the National League for Democracy in Yangon April 1, 2012. Myanmar voted on Sunday in its third election in half a century. (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters)

On Sunday Myanmar time, Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy (NLD) swept to victory in a landslide in the by-elections for parliamentary seats. Suu Kyi herself won a parliamentary seat, and the party appears to have taken the majority of seats contested overall, leading to jubilation at party headquarters. The victory will likely be viewed by some members of the international community as a sign that Myanmar’s reform process in fully entrenched, and that foreign countries should abandon sanctions and completely normalize relations with Myanmar. Read more »

Aung San Suu Kyi and the Burmese Election

by Joshua Kurlantzick
A supporter holds up a portrait of Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi during an election campaign of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party in Yangon March 28, 2012. A supporter holds up a portrait of Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi during an election campaign of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party in Yangon March 28, 2012. (Courtesy Reuters)

Over on New Mandala, Nicholas Farrelly makes some important points about Aung San Suu Kyi’s campaign for a parliamentary seat in the April 1 Burmese by-elections. Most notably, he writes that “it is much more dangerous for President Thein Sein if Aung San Suu Kyi fails to win her seat.” Indeed, I think this point has been poorly understood and underestimated. All of the harassment, intimidation, and other methods to keep the National League for Democracy (NLD) from campaigning as effectively as they should will actually be counterproductive to the president if Suu Kyi loses or if the NLD loses most of the seats. Read more »