Myanmar is an unpopulated country

TW: colonialism, neo-colonialism

I’ve been on something of a kick going through past and present reporting by The Economist as of late. More than finding woefully (and probably willfully) myopic looks at rebels in Syria, it’s been a rather varied treasure trove of distilled nonsense. For instance, their coverage of the 2012 US presidential election was woefully naïve, and had eleven states held up as “toss-ups” on November 2, before uploading an updated report on November 7 where they awkwardly admit that Obama won ten of those “toss-ups” (they complain that the popular vote was much closer, but inaccurately report the results as 51 percent Obama when it was closer to 53 percent). Of course, there were all those voices that pointed out that such results shouldn’t have been terribly surprising.

(The gas and oil pipelines being constructed from Kauk Phyu in Myanmar into China, from here.)

Naturally, none of that can compare to discussing Myanmar as a location and not a, well, populated area. Yes, Myanmar has the potential to be an important location for ports where goods would be shipped to and from urban centers in eastern China, Bangkok in Thailand, and even the rather poor territories in northeastern India. At least there’s assertions that the people living in those areas will see increased economic security or opportunities as a result of this, even if there’s no substance to those claims. The various Burmese peoples aren’t mentioned but implied to be in the way between Chinese and Thai consumers and oil imports. How that might jeopardize the trade surrounding Singapore, Malaysia and even Indonesia goes unmentioned and the precise economic impact (other than “trade”) on one of the poorest parts of India isn’t elaborated on.

Given this pattern of discussion where entire populations are erased from consideration, which was a key part of their coverage (if it can even be called that) of Syria, it seems as though The Economist‘s staff needs to be reminded just that certain groups even exist. I thought we could expect more from an internationally-read paper.

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