Last November, the National League for Democracy won a landslide electoral victory in Myanmar. It formed a new government this month.

Conservative pundits have long predicted that, under any administration led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s foreign policy would lurch towards the West, increasing bilateral tensions with China and making Naypyidaw an important player in the strategic competition between Washington and Beijing. That will not happen, but Myanmar’s current non-aligned stance will undergo minor adjustments.

Aung San Suu Kyi – who is tipped to head up the foreign ministry in the new Cabinet – has always been on good terms with the West, which for decades supported her struggle for democracy and human rights in Myanmar. Through her hand-picked president, she will doubtless consolidate these links, but she knows that Myanmar’s long-term interests lie in maintaining an even-handed approach towards all foreign countries, including its two most powerful neighbours.

Also, despite the advent of a democratically elected government, Myanmar’s armed forces retain considerable influence. The generals would not support any change in foreign policy that could threaten Myanmar’s unity, stability or sovereignty. They know that these three “national causes” are best served by firm but friendly relations with both regional neighbours and the great powers.

Please click here to read the full “Myanmar Foreign Policy Under Aung San Suu Kyi” article in the Australian Institute of International Affairs by Griffith Asia Institute Adjunct Associate Professor, Dr Andrew Selth.