PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2016, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (6): 737-746.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2016.06.007

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National geopolitical vulnerability: A Myanmar case and implications for China’s geopolitical policy

Fei LI(), Shengkui CHENG, Huilu YU, Qi QIN, Xiaojie LIU, Zengrang XU, Liang WU, Dan ZHANG, Xin LI, Dongmei CHU   

  1. Center for World Geography and Resources Research, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Online:2016-06-23 Published:2016-06-23
  • Supported by:
    Special Research Fund of China-ASEAN Collaborative Innovation Center for Regional Development and Development Program of Ministry of Education for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Teams, No .CW201501


At present international geopolitical pattern is drastically changing, which may have a profound influence on the complexity of Myanmar’s geopolitical context and vulnerability. Myanmar and the Greater Mekong Sub-region are becoming the world's major forefront and focus of geopolitical power game. Consequently, research on Myanmar geopolitical vulnerability would have great theoretical and practical significance for the development of western China and the “Belt and Road” initiative, as well as China’s surrounding geopolitical environment. National geopolitical vulnerability is a geopolitical concept, especially related with traditional implication of “small country.” Based on theories and methodologies of geopolitics and human-environment system research, this study defines national geopolitical vulnerability with regard to exposure, sensitivity, and adaptability, combining normative analysis with empirical study, and then systematically explores the structural effects and typical characteristics of national geopolitical vulnerability of Myanmar. With regard to internal vulnerability (sensitivity and adaptability), Myanmar has a vulnerable geopolitical location with the narrow shaped territory surrounded by multi-national powers, traditional agriculture-based economy and widespread poverty conditions, complex regional structure with multi-ethnic and multi-cultural conflicts, and long-term instability of government system. All these geopolitical factors and their succession mechanism determine its national geopolitical vulnerability. Significantly, China-Myanmar geopolitical relations fundamentally affect the geostrategic position of Myanmar. Myanmar’s geopolitical vulnerability and the corresponding dependence on China make it a weak point of the Western U-shaped besieging strategy and future critical point of the power competition, also an important geostrategic opening to China for breaking the geopolitical siege. It would be indispensable to continue to strengthen interdependence between China and Myanmar, and to maintain sound friendly bilateral relations. Myanmar is being faced with parliamentary election changes at present. Its political orientation will determine the future national development process and the corresponding geopolitical landscape of Southeast Asia, South Asia, and even the Asia-Pacific region for decades.

Key words: national geopolitical vulnerability, exposure, sensitivity, resilience, geopolitical policy, Myanmar