Rethinking Sino-Burmese Relations, 1949-1954

Social Sciences in China, 2018

Vol. 39, No. 2, 2018


Rethinking Sino-Burmese Relations, 1949-1954



Liang Zhi


Between 1949 and 1954, Sino-Burmese relations changed for the better. The U Nu government’s fear and suspicion of the People’s Republic of China meant that it planned to recognize China almost from the start. It was only after confirming the diplomatic position of other Commonwealth countries that Burma made a move, however, becoming the first non-Communist country to recognize the PRC. Not long after, relations between the two countries began to cool, partly because of geopolitical factors but mostly due to the fact that China’s revolutionary diplomacy was incommensurate with Burma’s pro-British, pro- American tendencies. After the Korean War broke out, Burma rapidly enshrined “neutralism” as the guiding principle of its diplomacy, while China began to establish ties with countries in the “Intermediate Zone.” In 1953, the two countries had the opportunity to repair their relations because of strains in the Burma-US relationship due to remnant Kuomintang forces, rising Chinese demand for Burmese rubber, and a drastic decline in the international market for Burmese rice.


Keywords: Sino-Burmese relations, Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, neutralism