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Myanmar pushes back against China funded China-Myanmar Economic Corridor

Myanmar has pushed back against China after trying to widen its influence through China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC). The decision was influenced from the experience of Pakistan in China Pakistan Economic Corridor and with Sri Lanka being pushed towards debt trap.

Highlights

China proposed the CMEC as a part of the BRI initiative. When Chinese President Xi Jing Ping visited Myanmar in January 2020, two agreements were signed to establish Kyaukphyu Deep dea port and to set up Special Economic Zone.

Chinese are desperate to use Myanmar as an alternate route to Strait of Malacca. This is mainly because, the region militarily dominated by the US.

Kyaukphyu Deep Sea Port

The port is important for energy security of China. It houses an oil and gas pipeline. Under this port development project, china is targeting massive investment of 100 billion USD in Myanmar.

Myanmar

  • There are 38 projects under CMEC. However, Myanmar has so far approved only nine.
  • The construction of Myostsone Dam is also suspended. Under the project, a 3.6 billion USD dam was proposed across the IRawaddy river. The project was suspended in 2011 due to widespread public concerns due to social and environmental impacts.
  • There were plans to purchase arms and other defence hardware from China. However, Myanmar has diversified its sources. Currently, Myanmar buys its arms and ammunition from India, Russia, Ukraine, Israel and other European and Central Asian countries.

The major concern of Myanmar is that the ethnic groups are receiving weapons from China. This includes the Arakan Army and the Taang National Liberation Army. There are several ethnic groups in Myanmar that are fighting against Myanmar for more autonomous power and separate lands. The Myanmar Government is trying to make peace with these organizations.

On August 21, 2020, around 15 peace agreement sere signed between the Myanmar Government and the militant groups.

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tianze.zhang@graduateinstitute.ch