Lost Footsteps
Lost Footsteps
Anniversary of Myanmar's independence
event_note History Timeline

4 January 1947 - 4 January 1948

Anniversary of Myanmar's independence

To better understand Myanmar's (Burma's) transition to independence (and soon after, civil war), it's important to remember what else was happening in the world. In early 1948 nearly the entire world was in ferment: * The Soviets were blockading Berlin, bringing the new Cold War to near boiling point. * The US would soon approve its ""Marshall Plan"" to rebuilt a war-destroyed Europe. * The UN's Palestine Mandate was just about to end, leading to the birth of Israel and the first Arab-Israeli War. * The communist revolt against the new Federation of Malaysian was soon to erupt, leading to the ""Malayan Emergency"" and 12 years of guerrilla war. * The First Indochina War was in full swing, with the French fighting the Viet Minh. * Dutch forces were in the middle of a 4 year battle against the new Indonesian republic. And most importantly for Burma: * British India had been just been partitioned into the newly independent Dominions of India and Pakistan. Partition had led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and the first India-Pakistan War over Kashmir. Burma no longer bordered any British possession. * The Chinese civil war would within 2 years lead to a bloody communist victory. And Clement Attlee's reformist Labour government had succeeded Winston Churchill's conservatives, promising change at home and deciding quickly on decolonisation in Asia. By 1946 Burma's usefulness to the UK was over. It was no longer a strategic eastern buffer for British India. And it was clear that its ruined economy would take years if not decades (and lots of money) to recover. Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong were key to future profits for UK companies, not Burma. By early 1947 the UK government was looking for a way out of Burma. The Myanmar (Burmese) independence movement helped determine the shape and exact timing of independence but there was little doubt the British would leave sooner rather than later. On 4 January 1948, the British quit Burma for good. For the Burmese it would be a brave leap into the unknown, at a time of global turmoil, and revolution (in China) on its doorstep. (Photo of President Sao Shwe Thaik and Sir Hubert Rance at the independence day ceremony and Map of the British Commonwealth in 1948)

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