One of President Biden’s best options to peacefully return Myanmar to a civilian government after last month’s military takeover is to work closely with the leader of the United Nations, according to Northeastern faculty experts.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres of Portugal could appoint a representative to play a behind-the-scenes mediation role that may include engaging Australia, one of the leading regional powers, to lure Myanmar back on the path to democracy, but China looms large and Biden’s diplomatic toolbox is limited, faculty add.
“China has the interest to maintain ties with the junta no matter what because China wants to keep its corridor … into the Indian Ocean and use Myanmar’s territory as its commercial lane,” Denise Garcia, a U.S.-based associate professor of political science and international affairs, says of Beijing’s massive infrastructure investment strategy, known as the Belt and Road Initiative.
The United States intends to create a web of democracies around China, and it is more likely that democracies will align with U.S. soft power, Garcia adds. The operational principle for the U.S. is democracy, she adds, and it cares about everyone becoming one.
“China does not,” she points out.