China and Myanmar after the 2021 Myanmar Coup: A Conversation with Derek Mitchell

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By: Bonnie S. Glaser

In this episode of the ChinaPower Podcast, Ambassador Derek Mitchell joins us to discuss the implications of the 2021 Myanmar coup for China-Myanmar relations. Ambassador Mitchell analyzes the current state of China-Myanmar relations, describes its historical development, and outlines China’s interests within the region after the coup. Ambassador Mitchell also examines which areas the United States and China can cooperate in Myanmar and which areas they likely cannot. He argues that while China faces widespread public antagonism amongst the population in Myanmar, it still commands significant influence due to the investments that it has made in Myanmar as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as its continued association with communist groups in northeastern Myanmar. Nonetheless, Ambassador Mitchell contends that Myanmar is not without leverage when it comes to interacting with China, as it can make use of its relations with Japan, Europe, the United States, and even Russia to prevent China from developing a monopolizing influence.

Ambassador Derek Mitchell is currently the president of the National Democratic Institute. He has previously served as the United States Ambassador to Myanmar, the first U.S. Special Representative and Policy Coordinator for Burma, and the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs. Ambassador Mitchell was previously a senior fellow, director for Asia, and director of the Southeast Asia Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.