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The Asians will slide he presented. This is a series of interviews with experts on Asian affairs designed to strengthen our understanding of Asian people and ideas. Your most on this transcribed series is the noted author on the ward winning broadcaster Lee Graham. Here now is Mrs. Graham with me. OK we're going to talk about Burma and broaden that really and talk about mainland China its relations with Burma and vice versa and how other countries in Asia feel about mainland China these days. We speak of Burma because our guest on this program is a distinguished Burman. His name is George. Like to tell you a little bit about doctors that he is professor of Asian studies at the University of Windsor in Ontario Canada. Probably he was a professor of history at the University of Rangoon and he's been a professor of history at Yale. But as the threat is here for a given period of time I find that out as we go along now and I think he will tell you some things which you might not be aware of not only about
his country of Burma but about how the Burman attitude may be changing towards China and why this is so. Doctors that are you hear of a stipulated amount of time. I mean you have an assignment covering so many years in an area. Yes well I have a passport that is valid for five years so I suppose that limits me to 5 Is it hard to renew passports like that. Well let's put it this way it's not so. It's given what on the basis of an appointment to a university. It's possible it's normally given out some of these days on the basis of sort of employment doesn't have to be U.S.. Speaking of this it is going to a lot of people leaving Bama. I think that has been extended is no reason out of them covering what three to five days funniest about anyone and it is much more possible for the city to get into power these days. It was some years ago would you say
that the trend has been towards less friendliness on the part of the Burmese government with mainland China and increased friendliness towards the west. That would not be substantially true because the basic fundamental political policy is that I would like to be friendly with Bakley every country that I exist in especially with the niggers and I have sought out on the same level of tenderness and all the great powers of whose various policies and actions would impinge I that once. Almost a conference on our future and our present. Who robbed him of his neighbors. We have quite a lot of them. We have East Pakistan we have India and we have to better because at one time Tippit was a separate country and we have China and provinces of Sichuan. Then we have Laos and
then we have Thailand. I understand and of course you know more about this than almost anyone I would speak about. I speak to about this but I was under the impression that Burma was joining shall we say the mainstream that Burma was a coming out more in its feelings of a fellowship with other Asian nations that it was not attempting to go it alone as much as it had in the past. Well they are perhaps. Different facets to this impression. Essentially I think the truth would be somewhat like this. At the time we take over the government of this present group in Bonn I just felt that the very means where being led astray by various efforts of the West didn't well it's called chat and she thought that's not the desirable entertainment literature. Perhaps
in the exposure she said and standards of expectations or worldly goods which could only be satisfied by recourse to certain. I'm desired of a degree of corruption which would that then permeate the who have driven me society. About me puritan attitude by the defensive attitude and since and the decision was taken that the House of Bama would should be put into on it so that it would be better able to have hopes of survival in the changing web site that the Burmese should withdraw from such contaminating influences. That which is perhaps not the right word but nevertheless. And so we withdrew for a while and but there was never any question that that about me. As individuals in their society whenever they were exposed to that form and
even that America can certainly think very happy to meet these people curious about them and very proud and pleased to tell about themselves. But in the period of probation of the prepare to withdraw has more or less ended I should think and that happened that plants do that reopen the bunnies and do the other site that very recently because this is taken from the sheep of new rules which allow foreign minister to come in much more easily than they were able to. Well didn't it happen in June 1967. On the face of it that. The Burmese government the Cambodian government India Indonesia and at least those four got together in a new power arrangement. Wasn't there the feeling that they somehow needed to support one another because one or two or maybe all feel threatened
by mainland China. Wouldn't this somewhat indicate a reason for a return to fellowship if not with the West at least with other Asian nations. I don't think there was any form of getting together. It would not have been I think possible to think of anybody's government these days do and do publicly and do formal arrangements of proposals to make a common stand against Chinese because there's a very basic pragmatism about leadership these days. And I think the Amal is right about it. Any degree of involvement I need to educate deviation from PR stunt self benevolent neuter them do it. He who I would immediately Gayla a heightening of Chinese players which would never really be countered by any corresponding degree of outside aid and support. It would just not
be worth the candle for the outside world to shore up the band. What do you mean by Chinese pressures. Well if you look at the long boundary that China has and you look at some of the people who live in Burma of Chinese descent the amount of indirect pressure in the form of subsidising being arming. And generally instigating dissident groups to grow the defenses capacities of enemies within daily immediately channeling are very scarce CEP less resources that we haven't done it so many skilled Besen then and time and do our holding. This additional pressure pressure the most naked sense of the word I would say. And so this was I think the basic attitude and now I think perhaps it was more a
wishful theory that these countries should get together have got together. I thought the premise of consent we have meta new public announcements and neither have we made any public at many festivals and so any desire to join any particular block even to defend ourselves from your relationship with China has changed to some extent I don't want to you know press this question and have you make an answer which you don't feel free to give but I think that there has been perhaps certain amount of disillusionment disenchantment certainly in AZ experience that with China I don't think the very leadership has been that disillusioned in the sense that we never really believe that it happened. The Chinese had nothing but loving kindness to anyone that is one of the basic principles of political belief in Burma that no nation loves
any other nation. You might find it convenient to get on with other nations the only nation that loves the Burmese peace sensible most sensible premise on which to base one's national However there's been no disillusionment. But there has been a change I think you replied to that have perhaps could be dated from about 1967 when the repercussions of the Great Cultural Revolution started to beating down Bama show that there was a change there. But then there's since been another change. When we talk in terms of what is the first and what was the second. The first change was not really the fault of the internal I suppose that can balance and that the Chinese that foreign service and its diplomatic service and its bureaucracy were going through and under the pleasures and impact of the Cultural Revolution and picking itself. A certain measures were
taken that took form in the sense of rather. Senseless when you know the foolish displays and manifestations are great and your logical purity and pro-Chinese 5 and it took the form of little knots you can badges and the red booklets on which where we get our own values we want to down in the schools where a large proportion of the students we Chinese are of Chinese descent. Now the Emmy's government had in accordance with its basic policy of promise of mutualism amongst all the other nations to its all the other nations that prohibited the flying of any flanks. Then you know that we had American missionaries goods and British missionaries goods we had Indian community sponsored schools into our we had forbidden the flying of Indian plays American flags
or British flags and all Russian flags for that matter and that we ought to have appropriated the wearing by the school children on any phone ballots which were not officially sanctioned. And so when these characters in the Chinese who had started behaving rather indiscreetly the government time began to take on that its policy of not allowing any such thing. But these people felt that they had to go on nevertheless. And so this government of course is dependent on almost 100 percent acquaintance in its policies and actions to do something for the country. This is I think what they believe they need all the time and the money and the men to work on that sort of constructive things like building roads and hospitals and schools and factories and doing that such in agriculture and it was on that basis of the government is going into it felt that it could not afford any challenge it
had faced three of the challenges in this last seven years in that. Come out very sad actually out of each other. And this was another sort of challenge. It was Chinese in one sense in that the original impulse of the dissident emanated from Chinese Cultural Revolution. But essentially it was you know call challenge. How much of a challenge could that have been if people are killed and or school children and they're wearing buttons and waving flags carrying books. Yeah can the government consider that it's you challenge or is it that it was a serious challenge and this was just a more trivial manifestation of it. Well that it's open to different interpretations and points of view. But I would agree that I mean this sort of challenge is taking shape in the form of school demonstrations and wearing a badge it should have been taken very lightly and probably could have been ignored but as I say these sort of governments in Southeast Asia who feel that they have a job or to do that
just cannot afford or they feel that they cannot afford any kind of challenge in the beginning for challenge celibacy. And so they viewed it very seriously and that they really cracked down on it. What is the form of government that the man has today since it's achieving its true independence in 1948. Well it is. Well let's put it this way the government and the civilian. Stability off a certain kind of sense that we had just two prime ministers in that period immediately after independence one stayed on for a long time then you're deaf or violent as a man another man who replaced him for a year and then he came back and then get a new and has been one of the prime minister. So in that sense there has been a reasonable amount of continuing in the governmental patterns and little patterns of administration but this present government is a reformist government that's it has a certain amount
of impatience with that Democratic gumbo of achievement to put it mildly. Would you explain that since you are putting it mildly I'm not sure I understand the democratic cause is that I think free and dry in our Constitution as being imperative necessity itself keep meant something things to to be done. And it goes in our Constitution thankfully promises a certain degree of socialization. And this was not a key Democratic form the government had to compromise and probably the compromise went on a little too long and was probably becoming a little suspect. And you know forms of conservation normally mean in some parts of the world some money going into someone's pockets. And so this is widely suspected and widely condemned and of course the army I guess if I you
will give me the time when my take that you have in your culture system has certain immediate reactions to the new insistent fermenting connotation fell on the government. There is almost a reflex rejection of such forms of government. Well I'm glad to get there because the army is to put it very badly the army is not the class rigid Prussian type of army leadership. The present Army leadership and specially the general where the peers amongst the top groups are the civilian resistance movement against the British and gets the Japanese and they happened to have that particular
bent of mind which required to rigorous action concerted action discipline. To satisfy their desires or their personalities and mindset. And so they went to uniforms but they remained and have remained very much a part of the whole. Complex of nationalist efforts in our country. They have just as good a record as any other I think. Discipline does not necessarily mean tyranny and firmness does not necessarily mean dictatorship. And if the government requires a certain approach because of its background and its problems I mean who is anyone to say that this is bad. I just think that would be a sweeping indictment for no good reason. Well I'm glad to see that because certainly speaking I suppose for the vast majority of my people that they find really nothing intrinsically wrong with that. And at the moment it has not been as effective as it would wish to be. They are really trying
to reorganize the whole basis of our society. I think many people would prefer that. Kind of stability which doesn't seem to be too harmful or harmful at all. But for that to anarchy in which nothing is accomplished. Speaking as persecution a point of view of basic American interest in that particular corner of the world the kind of stability which is. A human humane human is kind of stability in many many I suppose essential respects that is something that is of advantage do I think basic American objectives American objectives I think it may have great advantages to the people living in a country who haven't but this one life would like to live it with a certain amount of order a certain amount a future to look forward to. Well that's exactly that is the point. What this government is trying to do is. To provide hopes on a better future for the coming generation.
Objectives of course over the last 10 years has been to eradicate some of the inequalities of the society. Certain degree of exploitation perhaps. Somewhat obsessed with the idea. Thank you for exploitation but it's a very sound idea and very humane and there is nothing contradictory to the basic religious to get inside to be clear about it because human values. Wouldn't you say that in General Ne Win might be compared to a big General Suharto of Indonesia an army man who has the good of this country at heart has taken over in a certain way it is apparently anti-communist but is nevertheless socialistic in his point of view and is attempting to do with and see a job for his country. If you do any parallels between them well enough from the point of view of the various ethnic groups who have to that you
mention it you are perfectly right. It would be a very valid comparison between so hard to and generally win. But I would think that generally when it's not committed to a much more subtle ideological transformation of the Burmese people general so hard to President Rouhani. Is feeling is we're still essentially I think in their humanoid regions in their attitude to it's a country man. But I think it is. A couple of steps ahead. Well they but it did come to mind. They have certain qualities in common professes that a final question what would you say that your neighbors. All except communist China feel a certain apprehension about China which they may not reflect openly because they don't want any disturbance any political disturbance. But
one which may change the diplomatic behavior. It's a concern. Just made a statement saying he would be willing to forget what had happened to him and that he wished to call on all his neighbors especially China. So this is a very sensible point of view that is being expressed and perhaps if the Grammys were to be able to show to the Chinese that their that their neighbors are willing to leave China alone and not allow themselves to be uses bases for China's enemies or people consider trying to considers to be enemies then Chinese will one day break down this suspicion which they are to themselves. Do you feel that it's a fear on their part which is the fear on the part of I mean it just seems to be a mutual and continuing security. Maybe the breakthrough point is to break this cycle of frustration. Well that certainly would be the better part of
wisdom if that could be done. I thank you very much for coming here because there is a country as I understand it a great beauty splendid culture. Much wisdom and perhaps this is the closest many of this will come to visiting it through meeting you on this program. Is Burma open to tourism very much these days. Yes yes. Welcome very very it is a land of the pagoda that. Among feathers amongst others everything. I thank you for being here and I'd like to say that our guest on this program in doctor Dr. That is professor of Asian studies at the University of window in Canada and this is Lee Graham saying goodbye and always asking you to remember that we feel that although East is East and West is West the time has certainly come between to me. That concludes tonight's edition of the Asia Society presents with Lee Graham. This series comes to you through the cooperation of the Asia Society. If you would like to
comment on tonight's program or would like further information about the society and how you can participate in its many interesting activities please write to Mrs. Graham at WNYC New York City 100 0 7. This is the national educational radio network.
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Asia Society presents
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Asia Society presents is a series of programs from WNYC and The Asia Society. Through interviews with experts on Asian affairs, the series attempts to strengthen listeners understanding of Asian people and ideas. Episodes focus on specific countries and political, cultural, and historical topics.
Talk Show
Global Affairs
Race and Ethnicity
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Host: Graham, Leigh
Producing Organization: WNYC
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-6-39 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
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Duration: 00:24:05
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