China has got its claws on Myanmar, the Southeast Asian country which has been suffering diplomatic isolation following the February 2021 coup, backing the military junta in its bid to bleed the nation dry of natural resources, according to Roland Tatum in his opinion piece for Mizzima News.
China rushed in as a knight in shining armour to shield Myanmar, beset by a global boycott and turmoil following the overthrow of the legitimate elected civilian government of Aung San Suu Kyi, Tatum says, reminding, "However, such a saviour's act seldom comes for free".
"The dragon, the apostle of development, chooses to take underdeveloped nations for a ride and later arm-twists them into making diplomatic and economic concessions. There is little doubt that China clamours to solve Myanmar's problem only to serve its own ends." China has its eyes on Myanmar's natural resources for its economic gains, says the writer whose pen name is Roalnd Tatum.
China stepped into Myanmar at a time of political and economic crisis due to Myanmar's recent coup. Foreign firms were leaving the country suffering from poverty, unemployment and the country's military after failing to implement an agreed five-point consensus, was blocked from attending the ASEAN meetings. At this time, China was quick to recognize Myanmar's authoritarian regime, legitimising it by branding the coup as a "cabinet reshuffle".
For China's continued support and investments, the Myanmar generals bartered their natural resources, including timber, jade, copper and gas. As a result, China obtained massive gas fields and land for the Kyaukphyu port and the SEZ in Rakhine State for free. According to Mizzima News, China continues with its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) through Myanmar, with a view to effecting economic and military domination in the Indian Ocean. Only Myanmar could give China access to both the Indian Ocean and the Pacific to fend off the perceived encirclement of its borders.
The development of China Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) is therefore going on in full swing. Through the project, the Chinese government aims to build a transport corridor comprising roads, railroads and economic special zones from Kunming in China's Yunnan province to Myanmar's west coast. It includes a deep-sea port as part of the BRI in Kyaukphyu, to which the junta is extending much-needed assistance, reported Mizzima News.
The new passageway will act as a substitute for the Malacca Strait which is currently under the dominance of the US military. The route, an important one, accounts for 80 per cent of the Chinese import of oil and gas. It is not a stretch to imagine that the Kyaukphyu deep-sea port could double up as a site for the future deployment of the Chinese Navy, writes Roland Tatum for Mizzima News.
"What has kicked off with economic exploitation is poised to serve China's geopolitical and security interests in the future, by keeping a close tab on the shared border with India and Thailand." Tatum ends the article with the warning: "...Myanmar looks set to gain a dragon eye".
The writer also cautions: "Let's not forget that history has a peculiar way of repeating itself when a blind eye is turned willfully to the lessons offered by it. While attending to its short-term need to counter worldwide condemnation, Myanmar is gradually falling prey to China's long-term machinations."