Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thant Myint-U book tops India bestseller list during Thein Sein’s visit

Tuesday, 18 October 2011 22:01 Ko Pauk

New Delhi (Mizzima) – During Burmese President Thein Sein’s four-day visit to India last week, the book “Where China Meets India” by Burmese writer Thant Myint-U topped the bestseller list, according to Asian Age newspaper.

“The book gives a fascinating account of how the India-China rivalry would shape international politics, particularly in Asia, and how Burma is all set to play a significant role in all this,” Raghu Dayal told The Statesman newspaper.

Author Thant Myint-U's book tops the Indian bestseller list. The grandson of the late UN Secretary-General U Thant says Burma will reap vast benefits because of it's location between two countries with a total population of around 2,500 million people.

The book predicts that Chinese and Indian policies will compete in Burma and speculates that Western sanctions pushed Burma to a closer relationship to China during the past decade, while creating privileged conditions for Chinese business interests.

Both China and India see Burma’s vast raw materials as attractive commodities for their burgeoning populations, while also serving as a gateway to the Bay of Bengal and a conduit between the two countries, which have a total population of around 2,500 million people.

In the book, Thant Myint-U writes that Chinese areas along the Sino-Burmese border are now more modern than Rangoon, the largest city in Burma.

“For Thant Myint-U, much now depends on the West: if the country’s rehabilitation spurs more new investment, it may once again take its rightful place at the centre of Asian trade,” Bangkok correspondent Tim Johnston wrote in the Financial Times.

Thant Myint-U, a graduate of Harvard and a Cambridge-educated scholar, is the grandson of the late Burmese UN Secretary-General U Thant.

Thant Myint-U wrote, “Myanmar [Burma], sandwiched between China and India, is at its most important political watershed since the establishment of army rule in 1962,” in an article in the Indian Express newspaper prior to President Thein Sein’s recent visit. He also praised the Burmese president, saying “The new president, himself a former general, surprised everyone.”

In the article, “Open Up to Burma”, he wrote, “Aung San Suu Kyi told me that she believed the president was genuine in wanting change and that she hoped we were at the beginning of a new era in Myanmar's politics.” He met with Suu Kyi in September in  Rangoon.

In the article, he said, “The isolated country's transition to democracy is at a crucial stage,” and he suggested three ways to help Burma.

“First is to unambiguously voice support for the reforms under way, while at the same time being patient and refraining from demanding too much too fast. The alternative to what is happening is not a perfect revolution; the alternative is going back to square one.”

Secondly, he said that the Burmese government needed technical advice and the US should lift its sanction against Burma, including trade embargoes.

His previous book, “The River of Lost Footsteps,” raised criticism in some circles, because it suggested that gradual change is inevitable as the country attempts to end its isolation, to promote trade, develop civil society and adopt systematic structural reforms in the government. His new book, “Where China Meets India,” was released in August.

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