The article by Xinhua News Agency could easily be taken as a sign of how Burma/Myanmar is embracing democracy. The reality is more about a carefully orchestrated re-branding effort that hopes to cast Burma as democratically run rather than controlled by a military junta.
The military is guaranteed a quarter of seats in the two new parliamentary chambers and any constitutional change requires a majority over 75% – effectively giving the military control over the parliament. Another indication of the military’s grip on power is press freedom: Burma ranks 175/178 with only Iran, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea ranking lower.
It’s worth noting that the ‘re-branding’ effort isn’t for domestic consumption – as the saying goes in Burma, “Same bad wine in a different bottle” – but rather for the international market with the intention of undermining sanctions.
China shares a border with Burma and an interest in it’s resources. It’s also sensitive to it’s image on the world stage – a ‘democratic’ Burma would be a lot less problematic.