Burma (Myanmar) During the Cold War Era

Events

Aung San becomes the leader of Burma

1946

Aung San became the Burmese nationalist leader following the Second World War. San admired socialism and excessively began to become influenced by communism, where he eventually established the Communist Party of Burma by early 1947.

Aung San is assassinated

July 19, 1947

On this day, Burmese leader, Aung San, was assassinated in the capital of Rangoon during an executive meeting. It was undisclosed on who killed him, but it was most likely the British or perhaps his own people. Great Britain feared that they would no longer rule Burma as a colony with San in power. However, the Burmese worried that San would impose communism throughout the nation and the majority of the population opposed that.

Burma becomes an independent nation

January 4, 1948

Burma officially becomes independent after being a colony under the United Kingdom. Sao Shwe Thaik was the president during the time.

U Nu becomes the Prime Minister

January 18, 1948

During U Nu's time, Burma declared neutrality in the Cold War. Although, many ethnic minorities opposed U Nu and the government and they enforced many rebellions in the country. Despite continuing to fight communist influence from home, Burma strongly maintained its independence and was given solid support from the United States.

Chinese Nationalist forces flee to Burma

1950

Following their defeat to Communists in the Chinese Civil War, Chinese Nationalist troops were kicked out of their country and pushed south to Burma. This triggered much havoc, as the Burmese government thought that it was wrong for these Nationalist forces to come into a country without any permission. At first they were not imposed as a superior threat, but eventually, the Burmese government took action - with assistance from the United States and the United Kingdom - and forced a complete evacuation of these Chinese Nationalist troops. They were sent to neighboring countries, Thailand and Laos.

The Seagrave Trial

August 1950

Considered "the best American overseas" at the time, Gordon Seagrave was an American minority born in Burma. He fled to the United States to attend Johns Hopkins University's medical school, where he later developed his own hospital in northeastern Burma. Even though Seagrave helped numerous amounts of Burmese citizens and put a positive impact on society, he was arrested and sentenced to six years in prison in August of 1950 after being caught assisting six Burmese rebels. This event relates to the eventual deteriorating relationship between the United States and Burma.

United States and Burmese relations boost

1957

In 1957, an economic cooperation agreement was signed between the U.S. and Burma, where the United States promised to provide the Burmese economic aid. The U.S. also pleaded to form a military alliance in Burma to improve their correlation.

U Nu's political party splits

1958

Political tensions started to rise in Burma, as U Nu's political party divided - with nearly half of one side being in favor of communism.

"The polite coup de'tat"

September 1958

Following a break up of U Nu's political party, Burmese military officer, Ne Win, forced Nu to resign and give full control to the military. The Chinese were threatening to potentially take over Burma, so it was more than necessary to give full attention to the military. Ne Win quickly became ruler and banned all communism in the nation.

The Treaty of Friendship

1960

After U Nu came back to power when Ne Win stepped down as the leader of Burma, he negotiated with China and established the Treat of Friendship. This represented lasting peace and close relations between Burma and China. It just goes to show how the Burmese did as much as they could to retain their independence and not become involved in the Cold War.

Ne Win becomes Prime Minister once again

1962

After U Nu resigned for eternity, Ne Win became Burma's Prime Minister and would continue maintain leadership for the next 13 years until 1974.

Ne Win visits the United States

June 1962

During his appearance in Washington D.C. to visit President John F. Kennedy, Ne Win did not get the welcoming he expected. Win and his family were treated poorly and several racial slurs were thrown at them by society. Ne soon developed a strong Anti-American turnabout and reduced U.S. relations due to his experience in the country. He was so furious about this that he declined any American invitation to visit Burma and he sent all foreigners out of the country. At this point, the United States was at the brink of losing an important friend and Win planned to isolate Burma from the entire Western Hemisphere.

The March

August 8, 1988

The rule of Ne Win and his powerful ways of socialism, had turned Burma, once expected to become one of the fastest developing nations of Asia, into one of the poorest countries on the globe. The economy gradually began to slowly decline with rice shortages, a contaminated water supply, and a high poverty rate nationwide. With Sein Lwin being appointed as the head of the new government, the BSPS (Burma Socialist Programme Party) was established; in which many Burmese citizens were outraged with the way their country was being ruled. On August 8, 1988 at Rangoon (the capital of Burma), hundreds of thousands of people marched to demand that the BSPS be replaced by a civilian government. The march soon became bloody, as Burmese soldiers shot at unarmed rebel crowds, killing several thousand protesters.