Monday, June 29, 2009

Chineses Challange in Myanmar

The news article that a Chinese company has inked the deal with Myanmar Military governement to build a pipeline from the port of to in China is a troubling news.

Till now China was forced to ship almost all its Oil and Natural gas imports from Middle East and Africa through the Mallaca Strait. This was a very comfortable situation to governments who wanted to have a tool to keep the chinese in control in case of any tricky situation arises. Even China is aware and acknowledges the fact that "certain major powers" could choke the Mallaca Strait and bring the Chinese Economy to a grinding halt. Now Since inking the deal , China has a route to Bay of Bengal and its Energy Lines are secured in a better way.

The problem for India have increased because of this latest development. It will result in Chinese Navy presence in Bay of Bengal. If in case of any hostilities ,India wants to stop the oil shipping to China , then it must block both the Strait of Mallaca and this alternative shipping route. This will definitely streach the resources of Indian Navy and so the effectiveness of the "blockade" will be reduced.

The question to ask is that what can India's Foreign Policy do to deal with the increasing influence of China in Burma and where does India stand in the eyes of Myanmar Junta.

With the rise of Military Government in Burma, slowly Burma has become isolated from the world. It is enduring several sanctions from various countries because of the crackdown on the democratic movements. This has resulted in Myanmar economy to turn to shambles. China stepped in this situation and using several Chinese MNC's it has been involved in developing several projects like Oil & Natural Gas, Mining and others. Myanmar also provides a market for cheap Chinese goods which is killing Myanmar's own Industries. China has leveraged its strong position in Myanmar to get several benefits from the Junta. Now as far as India is concerned ,than the Myanmar Junta is trying to balance India and China and be non-aligned with both the countries. Myanmar is using India as a counter weight to China. In the past India and Myanmar have agreed to several key projects like the Sittwe port which allow access to Mizoram through Bay of bengal , when Bangladesh refused. There are several other examples of such co-operation between the two countries.
India and Myanmar coming closer has been a result of India deciding to engage Myanmar's Military Junta , even though that will be mean supporting anti-democratic regimes. This is the need of the hour as the main concern is to limit the influence of China in Myanmar.

Maybe India could have supported the democratic movement in Burma and should have developed strong ties with the pro- democratic leaders in Burma. But at this point of time the possiblity of Junta being overthrown is remote. So the best course of action is to swim with the tide.
In the case of any democratic movement takes place and the Junta rule is in danger , then China will definitely support Myanmar's Junta and that would be a tricky situation for India. Maybe in such a case India should find a proxy country which will try to help the people of Myanmar against the Junta, while at the same time not appearing to be anti-Junta supporter.

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