FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Growing Chinese presence in Myanmar has security implications for India
Posted:Apr 27, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By Obja Borah Hazarika
 
Myanmar President U Htin Kyaw paid a state visit to China from April 6-11, 2017 at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jingping. During the visit, President U Htin Kyaw held bilateral talks with President Xi Jinping and met Premier Li Keqiang and National People's Congress Standing Committee Chairman Zhang Dejiang. During the meetings, the leaders stressed the importance of advancing "Comprehensive Cooperative Strategic Partnership Relations" based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence and existing "Pauk-Phaw" (kinsfolk) friendship. 
 
Promotion of cooperation between the two countries through high level visits; cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, technology, transportation, culture, health and sports; strengthening closer coordination at platforms such as the United Nations, Mekong-Lancang cooperation and ASEAN-China cooperation to promote peace, stability and development of the region, were also discussed. 
 
Other matters which figured in the interactions pertained to maintaining peace and stability and development of the border areas, continuation of China’s support for the peace process of Myanmar, including national reconciliation and democratic transition and further pursuance of 2+2 high level consultations led by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence. Peace and stability in north Myanmar was related to the security of south-western China, Li stressed.
 
Nine Memorandums of Understanding, agreements and Exchange of Letters were successfully concluded during the six-day visit. These included an agreement on China’s grant for economic and technical cooperation of RMB Yuan 1 billion to Myanmar to implement projects in education, rural development and other fields; cooperation in the field of forestry; cooperation in seafarers training, education and development; cooperation in medical technical training centre and disease control; technical cooperation project regarding the 29th South East Asian Games; crude oil transportation agreement and implementation of development of deep sea port project and industrial park in Kyauk Phyu Special Economic Zone. According to Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin, the crude oil pipeline, will stretch from Kyaukpyu port in Myanmar to Kunming City in Yunnan province.
 
The visit was thus an ode to the closeness of ties between China and Myanmar which is of immense concern for India. At the outset, it needs to be mentioned that India has been long concerned that it will not be able to counter China’s soft power projection in the form of grants for the development of education, economy, technology, and communication infrastructure in Myanmar. 
 
The recent visit allowed China to affirm and strengthen its investments in Myanmar. Given that both India and China are eyeing the gas reserves in Myanmar, each sees the other’s involvement in energy related infrastructural initiatives in a zero-sum manner. 
 
Currently, India and China are locked in competition relating to upgrading ports, extracting oil, and building roads and bridges in Myanmar. They are both interested in accessing natural resources and building strategic alternative routes in Myanmar. However, India’s investment in Myanmar is much lower than that of China. While India invested over $224 million in Myanmar during the 2015-2016 fiscal, China invested $3.3 billion in Myanmar in 2015-16. Thus China has been able to outshine India in the level of investment made in Myanmar. 
 
However, some problems have cropped up with regard to China’s infrastructural programmes, chief among them being the Myitsone Dam which was being constructed by China. Work on the $3.6 billion mega hydropower project, located at the confluence of Mali and N’mai rivers in Kachin state, began in 2009 but was suspended in September, 2011 due to protests by local residents over possible detrimental impacts of such a project on the local environ. 
 
The suspension of this dam was a major setback for China-Myanmar relations and a decision towards the resumption of the project during the recent visit would have been an immense diplomatic achievement for China. However, no such decision was announced during the visit. 
 
India, too, is engaged in several infrastructural projects in Myanmar, including the construction of the 160-km-long India-Myanmar Friendship Road linking Moreh with Kalewa and Kalemyo in Myanmar; and the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway. Although, unlike China’s Myitsone Dam, these projects have not been at the receiving end of the wrath and opposition of local residents, India has failed to complete even one of its projects on time, thereby failing to establish itself as a reliable partner in such matters. 
 
During President U Htin Kyaw's visit, the Myanmarese leader voiced support to China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative which intends to boost connectivity and cooperation between China and the rest of Eurasia. It includes the land-based "Silk Road Economic Belt" (SREB) and oceanic "Maritime Silk Road" (MSR). If implemented, it will catapult China into an even more domineering role in global economic and strategic affairs. 
 
Some plans which are part of the OBOR’s are worrisome for India such as the project planned by China and Pakistan called the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which proposes to connect China’s north western Xinjiang region and Gwadar in south western Pakistan. The CPEC also passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, thereby intruding on India’s sovereign territory. The support shown by the leaders of Myanmar towards the OBOR thus poses considerable concern for India’s strategic vision.
 
Other concerns for India with regard to the increase of China’s presence in Myanmar relate to its possible implications on the cross-border security cooperation along India's northeast and Myanmar’s role as a gateway to the realisation of the goals under New Delhi's Act East Policy. Rapid completion of ongoing Indian infrastructural projects in Myanmar would be instrumental in shoring relations between the two countries along with ensuring cooperation in the realms of security, economy and culture. 
 
(The author is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Dibrugarh University, Assam. Comments and suggestions on this article can be sent to editor@spsinidia.in) 
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assumed office again in Bangladesh in 2009, bilateral relations between New Delhi and Dhaka have been on a steady upward trajectory.
 
read-more
Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Wednesday received a telephone call from US Vice President Mike Pence who offered thanks for the rescue of an American hostage, her Canadian husband and three children, the Prime Minister's office said.
 
read-more
Ruskin Bond’s first novel ‘Room on the Roof’ describes in vivid detail how life in the hills around Dehradun used to be. Bond, who is based in Landour, Mussoorie, since 1963, captured the imagination of countless readers as he painted a picture of an era gone by.
 
read-more
India’s foreign policy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attained a level of maturity which allows it to assert itself in an effective manner. This is aimed at protecting the country’s national interests in a sustained way.
 
read-more
Braid-chopping incidents have added to the already piled up anxieties of Kashmiris. Once again they are out on the streets, to give vent to their anger. A few persons, believed to be braid-choppers were caught hold by irate mobs at various places. They were beaten to pulp.
 
read-more
The report delivered by Xi Jinping at the opening of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) declared that socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era and the CPC has drawn up a two-stage development plan to develop China into a "great modern socialist country" by 2050.
 
read-more
The capture of Raqqa, the Islamic State’s de facto capital in Syria, by U.S.-backed Kurdish and Arab troops this week is a crushing blow to the group.
 
read-more
In West Asia, the end of one war paves the way for the next. Raqqa, the Syrian capital of the self-styled Islamic State (IS), has fallen to a coalition of rebels, the Syrian Democratic Forces that is backed by the United States.
 
read-more
On “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century”
 
read-more
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699

 
Column-image

Could the North Korean nuclear issue which is giving the world an anxious time due to presence of hotheads on each side, the invasion of Iraq and its toxic fallout, and above all, the arms race in the teeming but impoverished South Asian subcon...

 
Column-image

Title: A Bonsai Tree; Author: Narendra Luther; Publisher: Niyogi Books; Pages: 227 Many books have been written on India's partition but here is a firsthand account of the horror by a migrant from what is now Pakistan, who ...

 
Column-image

As talk of war and violence -- all that Mahatma Gandhi stood against -- gains prominence across the world, a Gandhian scholar has urged that the teachings of the apostle of non-violence be taken to the classroom.

 
Column-image

Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive