Big Burmese Bucks

In the last year, Burma was the recipient of $20bn in foreign investments.  Not only is this figure alone  impressive, but it is a huge development when looking at last year’s figure which was $302m.

So where did all of this money come from? Well, according to a recent BBC News article, it seems the Chinese are pretty big fans of Burma, making the largest investment of foreign countries, mainly in power-based projects.  Indeed, according to another Chinese-investment-based news report, Chinese companies have been the financier of a great deal of Burma’s major hydropower projects, despite political unrest in the region.

It has not been an easy ride all the way for China making these investments though.  Nonetheless, according to the Ministry of National Planning Development, its staggering $8.27bn investment from March 2010-11 was substantially larger than the next country in line being Hong Kong at $5.3bn and then Thailand at $2.94bn.

In addition, it was reported that “China is looking only for minerals, they are looking for economic benefit. That is all. That is damaging the country. They are not even making peace.”  So the fact that China has been desperate to make such efforts at pursuing investment returns, no matter what the cost, hasn’t been great for the country.  For sure it on some level makes sense for China to invest in places the West avoids as it doesn’t have to deal with such a high level of competition but still, various events including the work conducted “on the China-backed Tasang Dam in Burma proves that China is not immune from the same geopolitical concerns that keep others from parking their capital in ‘rogue states.’”

Political Impacts

Of course, the political scene is bound to have an impact on all of this too.  When polls were taken in Burma last November, it was the military based parties that won the most amount of seats.  Indeed, just looking at the 2008 constitution, a staggering quarter of seats were anyway reserved for this group.  It might have been just this fact that led to the criticism of polls by western nations and opposition groups; it seems that there is no choice pretty much, but to back a military-based party.