Economic sanctions helped release Aung San Suu Kyi. That suggests the regime is ready for a deal. Does it want to take Burma (Myanmar) out of China's tightening orbit?
In his tour of Asia last week, President Obama made sure to visit only democratic countries. It was a subtle message to Beijing that the US is building up a regional partnership of freedom-loving nations to counter China’s bully tactics and model of authoritarian rule.
Just as he finished his trip to India, Indonesia, South Korea, and Japan, Mr. Obama was faced with a fresh opportunity to bring one more nation to the long chain of democracies surrounding China. On Saturday, the military rulers in Burma (Myanmar) released Aung San Suu Kyi after seven years of house arrest.
By setting free the popular daughter of Burma’s founder to once again rally the people, the ruling junta may be sending a signal that it is ready for a new relationship with the United States and the West.
Specifically, Burma might want to break out of China’s tightening grip – big Chinese investments in Burma’s natural resources, the rising border trade, a critical oil pipeline, and a key naval port. If that’s the case, Obama has difficult choices ahead.