Public perception of Chinese investment in Myanmar and its political consequences: A survey experimental approach

Policy brief State

  • This study seeks to understand the determinants of public perceptions of Chinese investment projects in Myanmar.
  • We asked respondents to read invented news stories describing scenarios with varying types of investment and compared the reactions of different groups. We also conducted a Facebook-based survey to understand how university students in Myanmar view Chinese investment and overarching perceptions of Myanmar’s major foreign investors.
  • We find public perceptions of Chinese projects are contingent on the firm’s local partner and social engagement strategy. Overall, there is an implicit bias against Chinese investments, which is likely based on experience of previous Chinese investments in Myanmar.
  • The findings suggest Chinese companies can improve their image by engaging more actively with local communities and selecting local partners more carefully.
  • Though results suggest an overall positive attitude toward foreign direct investment (FDI), foreign investors need to be wary of the public’s pervasive and consistently negative view of investments in natural resources.