During the first ten days of this month, China has made some ultra speed moves on Myanmar. Two important moves happened during the first two weeks of June.
First was the visit made by the former human right activist and pro democracy leader, Aung Sann Suu Kyi’s to China. Second was the PLA’s military exercise – land and air mode, near Myanmar border.
Myanmar is very important for China, in its dreamt reach to the Indian Ocean. An easy look into the map will show that there are only two land route options for China to put its leg into the Indian Ocean- Pakistan and Myanmar.
The other option – the risky route through Pakistan has less attraction because of security risks in the project. Hence, Beijing has to tighten its hold over Myanmar.
Previously, Myanmar’s opposition leader and Nobel laureate Suu Kyi was accused by Beijing as the darling of the West and an ideological opponent because of her stern belief in democracy and human rights – the two things least respected by the Chinese.
But when the Chinese Communist Party invited Ms Suu Kyi to China, she never uttered a word for either democracy or human rights. She has not touched Chinese companies’ mining activities in Myanmar, which was strongly opposed by locals. China has described Ms Suu Kyi as a pragmatic leader.
There is some anxiety in the growing uneasy relationship between the two countries. Beijing has failed to maintain good relations with the present Military government led by U Thein Sein.
Besides, in contrast to Beijing’s wishes, Mr Sein has opened more relationship with Western countries. Recent action by the Myanmar government against ethnic Han (Chinese) problem creaters has also made China deeply annoyed about the Thein Sein government’s working.
On the other, Ms Suu Kyi was jailed for nearly 15 years by the China supported military Junta over the years.
Now the Nobel Laureate is undergoing big transition according to observers, she has changed from a human right activist to a political leader. She becomes a politician ready to play. Here she knows that China is a party that she should never sideline.
Despite winning elections, Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy was not able to rule Myanmar. Elections are to be conducted in November this year, and the NLD is expected to make a big victory.
The second event of the China-Nepal relations -the PLA’s military exercise in the Yunan province near to the Myanmar border was more convincing. Surprisingly it happened at the same time when Indian security men made an offensive against hit and hide north east insurgents in Myanmar forests.
The Chinese official media – the global times reported the PLA show with the title –“Exercise sends message to whole of Asia.” The Global times also linked the military and economic interest of the PLA exercise in clear words – “Since China has initiated the “One Belt, One Road” program, it is necessary for the PLA to preserve China’s national security and interests in relevant regions”
Myanmar is more important for China now than ever before. Its policy of combining diplomacy and show of authoritarianism indicate that there is no other option for Myanmar. Be it the Junta or the pro democracy activist, Suu Kyi, they have to cooperate with Beijing in its grand strategy of constructing a reliable land route to the shores of Indian Ocean.
For Beijing, Myanmar is the first best route to Indian Ocean and a compromise on it is unthinkable.