Thant Myint-U explained the challenges facing Myanmar as it attempts to reintegrate with the rest of Asia and the world after decades of isolation. He described the emergence of a domestic Burmese business class, the growth of Burmese migrant communities around the world, and the increasing economic development along Myanmar’s boarders as powerful social and economic forces that will support the opening process. However, there remains a deep cultural ambivalence, or even antipathy, toward globalization rooted in Myanmar’s brutal colonial history that could easily derail that process. To improve the prospects of Myanmar’s reintegration with the outside world, he suggested that priority should be given to the resolution of the remaining ethnic conflicts and to urban planning that fosters cosmopolitan and outward looking cities.
Thant Myint-U is the founder and chairman of the Yangon Heritage Trust. A historian and author, he served on three United Nations peacekeeping operations and with the United Nations Secretariat, including as the chief of policy planning in the Department of Political Affairs. In addition to his work with the Yangon Heritage Trust, he is also a special adviser to the Myanmar Peace Center, and a member of the (Myanmar) National Economic and Social Advisory Board.
Douglas H. Paal
Douglas H. Paal is vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He previously served as vice chairman of JPMorgan Chase International (2006–2008) and was an unofficial U.S. representative to Taiwan as director of the American Institute in Taiwan (2002–2006). He was on the National Security Council staffs of Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush between 1986 and 1993 as director of Asian Affairs and then as senior director and special assistant to the president.