Once-isolated nation becomes neighborhood's centre of attention

Once-isolated nation becomes neighborhood's centre of attention
File image of a Buddhist monk walks at the shwedagon pagoda in Yangon on August 7, 2014

MUSE, Myanmar - Myanmar, often called Asia's last frontier, is reforming its way to growth. Multinationals are rushing to gain a first-mover advantage in what is emerging as a hub of a colossal market that -- spanning China, India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations -- is home to 3 billion consumers.

Meanwhile, Myanmar's geopolitical importance has neighbouring powers jostling to forge stronger ties with the once-isolated nation as it transforms into a democracy, hoping to boost their own economies.

For the leaders in Naypyitaw, all of this gives them some serious diplomatic clout.

Much has been made of Myanmar's improved relations with Japan and the West, brought about by the end of military rule. But the nation's ties with China, India and Thailand are also evolving and deepening. As Myanmar's potential makes it one of Asia's hottest investment destinations, its immediate neighbours are not about to miss out.

Exhibit A is Muse, a border town in the northeastern state of Shan. Chinese cash is driving the community's transformation into a trade hub.

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