Just five years ago, Myanmar's lifeline to the world ran along the Burma Road into China. The Southeast Asian nation, one of the world's poorest, was for years heavily reliant on China as a source of investment in the most basic infrastructure. However, regime change and the opening of Myanmar to the world during the past three years has not been met with a surge of enthusiasm - or investment - from China at the same time that Western firms are taking their first steps in. In 2011, Myanmar elected its first civilian government in almost 50 years. Since then, the United States and other Western nations have lifted long-standing sanctions, leading to growing international interest in investing in the country's nascent market of 53 million people. For the financial year beginning in April, the Myanmese government projected it would attract about US$5 billion in foreign direct investment, more than double the amount a year earlier. Consulting firm McKinsey said last year that the country could attract foreign investment of up to US$100 billion by 2030. But China's role has been muted. Investment from the country fell from US$12 billion between 2008 and 2011 to just US$400 million for the 2012-13 financial year, according to a report from the Stimson Centre, a Washington think tank. "I wouldn't say China's influence is gone but it's less prominent simply because of all the other support the country is getting," said Melvyn Pun, the chief executive of Serge Pun & Associates, one of Myanmar's biggest conglomerates. "They are providing credit and doing infrastructure work, but frankly they really haven't left sufficient roots in the country. And that isn't fully benefiting China as the country opens up." By sufficient roots, Pun means a lasting cultural influence, technological innovation and an economic presence that goes beyond just hydropower dams, which China often builds, operates and uses to generate power for its southern provinces. There is also a growing awareness that Myanmar's former relationship with China was not completely reciprocal. Protests broke out in 2011 over a US$3.6 billion dam China was building in the northwest of the country. To China's abhorrence - and international surprise - Myanmar's new government halted the project, demonstrating that the days when investment dollars bought protection were ending. "China perceives that Myanmar is now a more unfriendly and risky place to invest," the Stimson Centre report said. Instead, China is courting more suitable investment partners in Southeast Asia. Within months of pushing democratically elected prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra out of office, the leader of Thailand's ruling junta approved a Chinese high-speed-rail project worth US$23 billion. "China found a window of opportunity to pull Thailand further into its orbit in the face of soft sanctions imposed by Thailand's allies, most notably the United States," said Pavin Chachavalpongpun, an associate professor at the Centre for Southeast Asian Studies at Kyoto University.