Has Burma swung back towards China?
Naypyidaw is Myanmar’s new capital (just when we were getting used to Yangon and Mayanmar). Mayanmar or Burma has been part of China’s twin legged strategy to surround Bharat. One anchor of Chinese policy is Pakistan (also defined by a Chinese diplomat at “China’s Israel”). The other leg is Burma.
The Union of Burma became independent from Britain in 1948. The People’s Republic of China was founded in October 1949. Beijing established diplomatic relations with Rangoon (the then capital)in 1950 by the Chinese Prime Minister, Zhou Enlai. Zou visited Myanmar in 1954, under the “5 principles of peace”:
1) Mutual respect for territory and sovereignty
3) Mutual noninterference in internal affairs
4) Equality and mutual benefit, and
5) Peaceful coexistence).
This translated into 1) Energy Procurement and Energy Security, 2) Access to the Asian Ocean, and 3) Border Trade and Security in Border Areas
In 1960, China fixed its 2,200 km boundary with Burma. It thus secured its Southern flank. Using that, as a template it then secured it flank with Paksitan.
Beijing today is connected to Burma With its “two pipelines for oil and gas, hydroelectric power, mining and resource extraction interests, a major market for China’s landlocked southern Yunnan province.”
These interests were sanctified as the ”Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership” agreement in 2011. Thein Sein however has tried to shift his government towards Bharat and the USA. He suspended construction of the Myitsone Dam at the confluence of the Irrawaddy River in the Kachin State, quite close to the Chinese border.
Hillary Clinton’s visit in December 2011 followed by President Barack Obama’s trip in November 2012 seemed to have taken over Burma ”undermining the Chinese wall in Myanmar”.
Bharat was ecstatic. Japan was happy. The Neocons were beyond happy. Sun Yen writing for the ultra-conservative magainze called Foreign Policy (one of the Rupee News Twitter followers) “China can no longer count on Myanmar as its strategic corridor into the Indian Ocean, or as a loyal supporter at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.”
On March 13 the new Chinese ambassador, Yang Houlan has been (re)moved indicating that China ”pivoted” toward Myanmar described as ”re-structuring” or ”reinforcing” its important role there by trying to rebuild and deepen lost mutual confidence.
While the West was celebrating “China’s Strategic Misjudgement on Myanmar. However”, “ex post facto” these were combined with the other demonstrable US ”pivotal” moves. Beijing has helped broker an agreement between Myanmar’s restive Kachin tribal leaders. China’s offer to broker the talks came in a recent series of high-level visits by Chinese military and government officials to Naypyita. The US and the UN both sighed a sigh of relief.
Are Chinese relations with Mayanmar ascendant? Time will tell.