Such statements, however, mask undoubted concerns. “As Washington shifts its strategic focus to the Asia-Pacific region, there is more than meets the eye to Clinton’s visit to Burma,” argued an article in Wednesday’s “Liberation Daily,” a paper published by the Chinese military that was circulated by the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Clinton’s visit, the first to Burma by a US secretary of State since John Foster Dulles went to Rangoon in 1955, comes on the heels of Mr. Obama’s nine-day swing through the Asia-Pacific region. He used that journey to announce a US “pivot” away from winding-down wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and toward east Asia.
“The US is here to stay,” he said bluntly.
Those ambitions have worried some southeast Asian nations, especially those that have territorial disputes with China over islands and waters in the South China Sea thought to be rich in oil and gas. They have welcomed renewed US involvement, and Washington’s insistence that it has an interest in ensuring freedom of navigation in waters that China claims.
Burma has no such dispute with Beijing, but its new rulers appear to be tiring of Beijing’s warm embrace and seeking to reduce the country’s economic and political dependence on its huge northern neighbor by cultivating ties with Washington.