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A Burmese Spring
Article from Bulletin/Magazine
The Economist (http://search.proquest.com/) vol. 407 no. 8837 (May 2013)
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A walk around battered, ramshackle Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city and former capital, quickly makes it clear how far the country has fallen behind the rest of Asia over the past half-century. In large part the place is but a ghostly reminder of former glories. Under British colonial rule, before independence in 1948, Rangoon (as it was then) was a thriving, cosmopolitan entrepot, the capital of Burma, one of the region's wealthiest countries. All that came to an abrupt end in 1962 after a junta of army officers, led by the brutal General Ne Win, seized power and launched the country on the quasi-Marxist "Burmese Way to Socialism". But now the country has seen another about-turn, almost as abrupt as that in 1962. Over the past two years dramatic reforms introduced by a new president, Thein Sein, prompted by the country's increasingly desperate economic straits, have started a rapid transition from secretive isolation to an open democracy of sorts. The mere fact of such a change taking place has surprised the world; its speed and breadth have caused widespread bewilderment. Even in careworn Yangon the signs are everywhere.
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