Narcotics, Concern of China's Presence in Myanmar, Timeline and Issues

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Oct 2011

  • India Myanmar agree to resolve border issues and step up energy and trade links

  • India sought to consolidate its ties with Myanmar by offering an additional $500 million line of credit

  • Both sides agreed to

    • Examine the feasibility of establishing railway links

    • Accelerate work on two hydel projects in Myanmar

  • Reviewed progress on a route into the North-East which would supplement India’s sole link to that park of the country via the Siliguri Corridor

Editorial: August 2

  • There has been a shift in India’s stand towards Myanmar. In the 1990s India was more concerned with the military rule and the detention of pro-democracy leader Aang San Suu Kyi. The recent visit (July 2010) to India of Myanmar’s Senior General Than Shwe marks this shift.

  • A number of key agreements were signed during this visit relating mainly to security, oil exploration and trade promotion.

  • Sittwe port: Link from Kolkata to Sittwe port then through Kaladan river to Mizoram.

  • India Myanmar Friendship Road: 2001

Narcotics

Energy Security

ONGC GAIL have presence there

S&T Cooperation

  • Cultural ties

  • Ananda temple

  • Legal assistance

  • Diaspora

  • Mizoram Myanmar road link

Concern of China’S Presence in Myanmar

Bilateral relations between Burma (officially the Union of Myanmar) and the Republic of India have improved considerably since 1993, overcoming strains over drug trafficking, the suppression of democracy and the rule of the military junta in Burma. Burma is situated to the south of the states of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast India. The proximity of the People’s Republic of China gives strategic importance to Indo-Burmese relations. The Indo-Burmese border stretches over 1,600 kilometres.

Timeline

However, since 1993 the governments of the Indian Prime Ministers P.V. Narasimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee changed course and began cultivating ties with Myanmar, as part of a wider foreign policy approach aimed to increase India’s participation and influence in Southeast Asia and to counteract the growing influence of the People’s Republic of China.

Issues

  • Trade: USD 1.2 billion in 2009—10.The trade turnover had shot up 2009—10, doubling just in two years. India is the fourth largest trading partner of Myanmar after Thailand, Singapore and China.

  • India is also the thirteenth largest investor with an investment estimated at USD 189 million in five projects. Indian investment ranges from oil and gas sector to hydroelectric power, railways, electric power, among others.

  • However, China is the biggest investor in Myanmar with investments totalling to about USD 9.6 billion.

Access to NE

  • It is not so well known that Myanmar’s ports provide India the shortest approach route to several of India’s north-eastern states.

  • Kaladan: India and Myanmar have quietly finalised the $100 million Kaladan multi-modal link project, which will provide much-needed transit access between the north-eastern states and the rest of the country. Estimated at a cost of IC (Indian Currency) 545 crore the project proposes 826 km route by sea, river and road from Kolkata to Mizoram. The highest distance of 539 km will be covered from Kolkata port in India to Sittwe port in Myanmar encircling the coastal line of Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal. The proposed sea route is then connected with the riverine channel through river Kaladan up to 158 km in the upstream before being linked to a land route that stretches about 129 km through the mountainous terrain in the Chin State of Myanmar before finally reaching Mizoram in India.

Maritime

Two closest Indian and Myanmar’s islands are barely 30 km apart.

Insurgencies & Drug Trafficking

  • common fight against the insurgencies raging in the border areas of both the countries. Indian insurgent groups (NSCN, ULFA and the Manipur rebels among others) have been operating out of bases in the weakly controlled areas across the borders of the Indian states of Manipur and Mizoram and Myanmar’s rebels, primarily the Chins and the Arakanese, have often taken shelter on the Indian side. lndia-Myanmar cooperation is also essential to control narcotics trafficking and to curb the proliferation of small arms in the region

  • China has made rapid advances into Myanmar and established close political, military and economic relations. Myanmar provides China the shortest land route access to the northern Indian Ocean.

  • China has signed a long-term agreement with Myanmar for the exploitation of its hydrocarbon reserves and for the transportation of oil and gas through a 1,100 km overland pipeline from Kyaukryu port in Myanmar to the border city of Ruili in Yunnan. This pipeline will reduce the distance by 1,200 km and make China less dependent on the Malacca Straits.

  • China is also developing Sittwe as a commercial port on the west coast. It is natural that Chinese naval activity in the Bay of Bengal will soon follow.

  • China has also been stepping up arms sales to Myanmar as other nations, including India, are loath to sell offensive military hardware to the country. China is reported to have told Myanmar to take artillery guns from North Korea in return for rice.

  • Radars have been reported to have been erected on Myanmar’s west coast to monitor Indian missile tests. This is not a positive development, as it will further increase Myanmar’s dependency on China.

  • However, indications from the military regime are that it does not want China to exercise undue influence in Myanmar’s internal affairs.

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