Burma offers the rapidly industrialising provinces of South-west China a vital port facility in the Indian Ocean. Consequently, substantial Chinese investment in creating an effective infrastructure from border to port - in rolling stock, highway and water transport - precludes the possibility of a return to democratic rule. There are strategic implications too: the greatest Communist power in the world has a new front against the greatest democracy, India.
After bad experiences under the British and Japanese, Burma for 30 years pursued a non-aligned stance at the expense of one-time national prosperity. The irony is that it has been colonised again.
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