Myanmar-China Asymmetrical Relations: The Case Study of Myitsone Hydropower Dam Project through the Lens of Small Power’s Strategies

Mya Thida, Hnin (2023) Myanmar-China Asymmetrical Relations: The Case Study of Myitsone Hydropower Dam Project through the Lens of Small Power’s Strategies. PhD thesis, Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem, Nemzetközi Kapcsolatok és Politikatudományi Doktori Iskola. DOI

PDF : (dissertation)
PDF : (draft in English)


The aim of the research is to find the strategies and tactics of small powers in relations with great power neighbour under the asymmetrical relationship. The research problem The research accommodates the two important research problems. (1) To investigate how a small power can manage its asymmetrical relations with a great power neighbor. (2) To observe how a small power cooperative with a big power without deteriorating its sovereignty, by protecting its national interest, and by avoiding confrontation with the big power, as well as by preserving the bilateral relations between them. The subject of analysis The research emphasizes on the Myanmar-China asymmetrical relations with a special focus on the Myitsone dam hydropower project as a case study which is a critical issue between the two countries. The impact of the dam issue not only effects on the Sino-Myanmar relations but also influences on other asymmetrical relations between China and small powers. It also The research question What tactics and strategies does Myanmar use to increase its room for maneuver in its asymmetric relationship with China? Hypotheses The research will investigate two hypotheses: (1) The behaviors of small powers can be identified between a tactical and strategical level in an asymmetric relationship. (2) Small powers are capable of changing the behavior of big powers in different ways besides by using balancing and bandwagoning strategies. Conclusion and the highlight of a new scientific result Regarding the big picture of Sino-Myanmar relations, it has been found that Myanmar practices the “bandwagoning” strategy with limits. In the Myitsone Dam suspension, the Myanmar government used the “balancing” strategy with limits. To answer the promised research question, the research can investigate that Myanmar has used both bandwagoning and balancing strategies in limit. The research has revealed the detailed analysis of Myanmar’s tactical and strategical moves toward China. As a new scientific result, the research insists that small states are really important actors in international relations. Despite their power discrepancy with big powers, small countries have the capability to counterbalance and counterweight great powers through their tactical moves. In doing so, small states can change the behavior of great powers without breaking up their relationships. They can improve their own leverages and abilities within the framework of cooperation with stronger powers. Thus, power is not a determinant factor in international relations, even in the asymmetrical relationship. Small powers can manipulate their strategies by developing their political leverage, by taking advantages of stronger powers’ deficiencies, by effectively using its geostrategic importance, by engaging regional and international organizations, and so on. The research highlights the two distinct strategies of bandwagoning and balancing, in which small powers can maneuver these two strategies in limitation. They can utilize these two strategies not only in resisting stronger powers but also in seeking and developing their interests. Small powers can also influence the behavior of great powers through their impressive strategies.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD thesis)
Supervisor:Kocsis B. János, Eszterhai Viktor
Subjects:Political science
International relations
ID Code:1266
Date:30 May 2023
Deposited On:18 Jan 2023 14:21
Last Modified:01 Jun 2023 11:27

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