Burma: Are there signs of change?
The guilty verdict for the Burmese pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was perhaps the least surprising news story of the week.
The military junta running the country were expected to find her guilty of breaching the terms of her house arrest when an American man swam to her compound and stayed two days - he was sentenced to seven years for his part in the incident - and they duly did.
But is there more to it than that?
Western governments - including the UK and the rest of the EU - were quick to condemn the verdict and threatened to impose more sanctions on Burma. A move welcomed by human rights groups.
But did they act too hastily and not consider the verdict carefully enough before issuing their condemnatory statements? That is a question we discussed on The World Tonight.
A former British ambassador to Burma - or Myanmar as it is also known - Derek Tonkin, who is an advocate of constructive engagement with the government in Rangoon, told us that the verdict sent an interesting signal.
The sentence of three years in prison was commuted to 18 months house arrest. Mr Tonkin also said he understood that the terms of Ms Suu Kyi's house arrest are a bit softer than they were.
Human rights organisations say Aung San Suu Kyi is a prisoner of conscience and should not be in detention at all, but given the nature of the regime what can be read into the sentence?
According to Derek Tonkin and some other observers, the relative leniency of the sentence is a signal to Burma's neighbours and particularly China, India and the countries of ASEAN - that the military government are listening to their calls for restraint.
According to these analysts, the verdict was carefully calibrated to prevent Ms Suu Kyi taking part in elections planned for next year while not appearing over harsh.
Other observers point out that the junta has a plan to restore constitutional order in Burma - a country wracked by rebellions by its various ethnic minorities since independence from Britain more than 60 years ago and ruled by the military since 1962.
A new constitution has been drawn up by a convention which Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), boycotted.
Under the plan, elections will be held next year and a new generation of leaders will come to the fore. The aim of the junta seems to be to entrench the military's role in politics, but sharing power with civilian politicians - though not the NLD.
The thinking is they can break out of the partial international isolation they are in and then start to rebuild the economy which has seen one of the wealthiest countries in south east Asia become one of the poorest - if not the poorest.
China has been criticised by Western governments and human rights groups for being too soft on Burma - and indeed following the verdict, the Chinese called for respect for Burmese sovereignty and blocked a British attempt to get the UN Security Council to condemn the junta.
But there are signs the Chinese are gently trying to push the junta towards sharing power with civilians. As this commentary by Wen Liao suggests China wants stability on its south eastern border.
But for this to succeed, the generals need civilian partners who have credibility with the outside world, so reports that the leader of the Burmese government in exile, Sein Win, has gone to ASEAN with a plan for constitutional change that would involve the military becomes very interesting.
There may be no immediate prospect of Aung San Suu Kyi being freed and allowed to have a political role, but it looks like there is a possibility that things may change in Burma - if only very slowly. We'll continue to follow the story.
Alistair Burnett is the editor of The World Tonight.