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COMMENTARY
Is Burma China's Satellite State? The Answer is Yes
By AUNG ZAW Friday, May 27, 2011


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President Thein Sein, a former military general and protégé of dictator Snr Gen Than Shwe, is on a three-day state visit to China to pay a formal courtesy call to the leaders in Beijing and to cement what is fast becoming a strong relationship.

Indeed, we should not forget the historical relationship between the two countries: in 1949, Burma was one of the first countries to recognize the People's Republic of China.

But that doesn't mean that the relationship has always been smooth sailing.

Anti-Chinese riots were widespread in Burma in 1967, while for its part, China played an active role in supporting communist insurgents in Burma.

We must not forget that Beijing has at times played tough with the incompetent generals of Burma, most notably during the Kokang Crisis in August 2009 when Beijing reprimanded Burma over the instability at their common border when some 37,000 refugees fled into Chinese territory.

Aung Zaw is founder and editor of the Irrawaddy magazine. He can be reached at [email protected]

Beijing was reportedly enraged, and Burma quickly dispatched high-ranking officials to mend the fence.

On the issue of trade and investment, China plays a key role—extracting natural resources from Burma's ethnic states.

China made huge investments in hydropower, oil and gas, totaling $8.17 billion, Xinhua reported last year, citing the regime’s own statistics.

Indeed, by the end of March this year, China's investment in Burma has risen to US $15.5 billion from $12.3 billion at the end of 2010.

There is no doubt that the Chinese invasion of Burma is visible in the growing numbers of Chinese migrants and businessmen in Burma's second largest city, Mandalay, as well as in Shan and Kachin States where they have opened shops and businesses, and regularly buy land.

It is believed that over the last 20 years, hundreds of thousands of Chinese have migrated to Burma. Many of them have obtained Burmese nationality cards through corrupt immigration officials. China's persistent presence in Burma is significant—many local Burmese have begun learning Mandarin to help secure jobs, prompting a joke in Burma that the future leaders of the country will be fluent in Chinese next time they visit Beijing.

Shortly after the Burmese military crushed a pro-democracy movement 22 years ago, China was one of the first neighboring countries to back the newly installed junta, providing it with arms, jet fighters, naval ships and ammunition. Since then, its unwavering support for the regime in Burma has only grown.

Before 1988, China had supported and financed hardcore Burmese communist insurgents that waged bloody civil war against the Burmese regime.

China’s strategic shift toward Burma shows a more pragmatic approach than its previous ideological war.

Indeed, sadly, the policy shift does nothing more than preserve the brutal regime in Burma, and plays a destructive role toward Burma’s embattled democracy movement.

Outside of Burma, Beijing’s policy toward Naypyidaw has raised heated debate between pro-sanctions and anti-sanctions groups. The argument now is that it is time to counter China's growing political and business clout in Burma. Western companies and governments feel that this is all just a case of too little, too late—time to follow Beijing’s footsteps.

Li Junhua, the current Chinese ambassador to Burma, told Xinhua news agency that Thein Sein’s state visit would certainly push the two countries' strategic and mutually beneficial cooperation toward a new high.

Burma’s military leaders often call China their “most important friendly neighbor,” and they can now continue to develop their strategic relations with Beijing after putting to bed November's general election.

But it takes two to tango—Beijing realized that Naypyidaw has much to offer.

Burma has offered strategic access to the Bay of Bengal. Underlining this deepening strategic cooperation, Chinese naval ships last year made a port call for the first time in Burmese territorial waters.



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COMMENTS (21)
 
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ZawGyi Wrote:
08/06/2011
@ Myanmar Patriots

You say, ..."Burma fell into china's laps because of traitor SuuKyi;..

How dare you call her a traitor? She was duly elected by a landslide with a people's mandate to rule.

The Junta didn't keep its promise to hand over power to duly elected representatives.

If anybody is a traitor, that's you and the Junta for disobeying the people's mandate. You are all illegal, ruling by the gun like robbers and thieves.

To hell with you!

You have the gall and the bluster to come up with your antique and far fetched Shwebo Min mirage.

ZawGyi Wrote:
08/06/2011
The few students were from just ONE Kemmendine, Chinese school, recently nationalized. They were wearing these badges since long time before. It was nowhere outside this school.

Ne Win govt could’ve arrested these students and put them on trial. A simple police case. Instead, it splashed this on front pages. Its MI spread lies and rumors that students held teachers hostage, raped, and killed them. It sent out soldiers without uniforms to lead hooligans to rob, burn, and kill other innocents. They were unrelated to the students or the badges, staying in their own homes.

Q‘s:

How can a few students in a recently nationalized school export a revolution? LOL! For that, Mao could have sent arms and men to various insurgents in neighboring countries to topple governments. He didn't.

BTW, since you are in America, do you burn, kill, or rob people for wearing whatever?

Victimizing victims twice, you’re always fond of your dirty work.

ZawGyi Wrote:
08/06/2011
@Tocharian

There you go again! Blatant lies.

You talk about Mao exporting “Cultural Revolution.” Far from it!

Click Wiki link below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_people_in_Burma


“…Public attention was successfully diverted by Ne Win from the uncontrollable inflation, scarcity of consumer items and rising prices of rice. …”

FYI, we were there, too.

There was a severe rice shortage! Burma was in dire crisis! Many faced starvation.
Sky high rice prices. Mutinous soldiers‘ rumblings, leaving barracks, searching for rice for families…

Once, the biggest rice exporter, what happened?

Under Burmese Way to Socialism, industries and trade were nationalized. Rice trade under Govt’s monopoly. Ne Win govt used Mao badges worn by a FEW young Chinese students as an excuse. It cunningly twisted this to create anti-Chinese riots, diverting attention from a food crisis that it couldn't solve. (Contd)

Myanmar Patriots Wrote:
04/06/2011
tocharian Wrote:

1."I was there in 1967 during the anti-Chinese riots in Rangoon and I remember even some of my ethnically Chinese or half-Chinese fellow students from RASU (Rangoon Arts & Science University) were upset at the way CCP (under Mao-Tse-Tung) was trying to export the "Chinese Cultural Revolution" forcefully into Burma. That angered Ne Win a.k.a. Shu Maung (half-Chinese). The Chinese strategy is different now but the goal is the same: control Burma"

SO FAR SO GOOD

2."and they have basically succeeded thanks to Than Shwe, that dumb tayoke pay min (King who gave away the country to the Chinese)."

RUBBISH! Burma fell into china's laps because of traitor SuuKyi;SLORC and USDP had to act pragmatically and expediently in the face of English orchestrated anti-Burmese propaganda.

Myanmar Patriots Wrote:
04/06/2011
Erik, Thank you very much.

Welcome, Ashin Erik. How about choosing a Burmese name?

If only NLD has a modicum of intelligence- doesn't have to match yours - Burma could make good and fast progress.

Erik Wrote:
03/06/2011
Tettoe Aung wrote: "It's not fair that people said that sanctions put Burma into the arms of China."

Why not? The facts are only pointing in this direction. Also, off the record military people will tell you that they don't like the Chinese, the economic dependency and the Chinese "economic invasion" in some parts of Burma. They'd rather have something to choose.

This whole "civilian government" and democratic transition thing is also meant to lure western money back in. We both know the NLD is blocking this for ages (the US bases its policy mainly on ASSK). Western competition for the Chinese investments means better prices for the Burmese and more development. How can you not like that?

Tettoe Aung Wrote:
01/06/2011
It's not fair that people said that sanctions put Burma into the arms of China. To me it the 'total betrayal' of the military. My relatives gave their lives, not just theirs but also of their families as well, fighting Chinese incursions with the use of CPB (Communist Party of Burma. The military have no respect for those who sacrificed their lives but to get into bed with the Chinese. Afterall the Chinese PLA didn't have to fire a single shot to occupy Burma. But if and when the tide turns (and it will sooner or later) I cannot anticipate the carnage. The say, you have to be afraid of the sword nearest to you.

Erik Wrote:
31/05/2011
Naymin wrote: "Apologists, proxies and even some governments relay news that the new government is making progress and sanctions are to be lifted. They are to be strongly condemned. Let’s listen to those thugs, so-called “third force” and puppet presidential “advisors” how they will make excuses."

Well, one thing is for sure: people who let their emotions/hate rule their policies and opinions will never bring about the slightest bit of positive change in Burma.

This apoligist/proxies mantra is getting stale. The world isn't black and white. The fact of the matter is that the only way forward is pushing the government softly in the right direction and hope they won't relapse. I sincerely thing that a Western presence can be beneficial, and certainly more beneficial than Chinese occupation.

Naymin Wrote:
31/05/2011
The answer is yes, definitely. Whose fault is it? The answer is junta, because, they invite them and willingly to be a “slave”.

Almost every year Wunna Mg Lwin shouted noisily at UN that Burma would not allow anybody to touch national sovereignty. TShwe and group always boasted of they were great patriotic Tatmadaw-tha, except them nobody in Burma could protect/save Burma.

Unfortunately, it is these generals pocketed and handover Burma’s national resources to China. Even worst, they will let China to occupy Burma starting from navel base.

Apologists, proxies and even some governments relay news that the new government is making progress and sanctions are to be lifted. They are to be strongly condemned. Let’s listen to those thugs, so-called “third force” and puppet presidential “advisors” how they will make excuses.

Release all political prisoners, conduct reconciliation, and build a genuine and united democratic government to be led by DASSK are only remedies for Burma.

rannine Wrote:
31/05/2011
Hi Nyi Nyi,

Don't worry for swallowed up by Paukfaws. After swallowing up, there is no problem. Problem is before and during the swallowing up. Miandien will be slaves (girls are sex-slaves) of paukfaws at that time.

George Than Setkyar Heine Wrote:
30/05/2011
Now you are saying!

China has put Than Shwe/Thein Sein in its pocket since long ago.

Bao Youxiang heading the UWSA and Shan rebels have secured Burma's northern border, while Chinese warships are berthing at Kyauk-hphyu, Arakan State, port to protect Chinese interests in Burma.

Chinese are building rails, roads, dams, pipelines and mining are ongoing in Burma managed by Chinese and even Chinese army personnel are seen at work sites in Burma.
Who is safeguarding Burma's national sovereignty and territorial integrity today?
Burma Army?

No way, it is China stupid!

MHK Wrote:
30/05/2011
What is the main message of this article?
Myanmar is a Chinese Satellite state? And then?

Therefore as many in Rich Tatmadaw society/third forces points out and openly say, the US should demonstrate its eagerness for serious engagement with Myanmar's new government and lift or ease the sanctions even before the preconditions are respected i.e the release of political prisoners or stop human rights abuse?

Or it wants to remind democracy forces especially NLD there is serious danger of Chinese strong support NayPyiDaw receives? and it needs to update and modify it's strategy?

Erik Wrote:
29/05/2011
I agree with Aung Zaw that Burma is a client state of China. But I wonder why Aung Zaw ignores the coming about of this relationship.

Until the downfall of the CPB China supported the communists in their struggle against the regime, yes. After that Burma was driven into the hands of China because the West didn't want to deal with the regime anymore.

At least Aung Zaw could've mentioned that the sanctions policies of the West, which came about partly because ASSK and the NLD asked for it, narrowed down the options for the regime. With the result that people in Mandalay now feel like they are living in China...

Fred Wrote:
29/05/2011
China could swat the North Korean government out of its way, particularly at a moment such as this, yet it doesn’t. North Korea’s only sizeable exports are drugs, counterfeit money, missile systems, and nuclear technology. It would be unrealistic to think that North Korea and Burma could engage in meaningful trade if China objected. Thus all of the diplomats are visiting China, so China can match their stories against each other in a timely manner, to stay informed.

For the past few decades China has embraced the philosophy that, if you travel in a nice direction, you will reach a nice destination. (This worked pretty well for the ancient Roman Empire.) Where does China think it’s going with the Burmese/North Korean trade issue?

Nyi Nyi Wrote:
29/05/2011
Before the British colonised Burma they were already in India for 100 years and had taken over more than half of the world. The uneducated Burmese kings were ruling the population based on astrology, assassinating would-be rival princes, etc. Everything outside the royal palace was just farmers living poorly. Compare those with now. Everything outside Naypyidaw is neglected. The country is ruled by uneducated Than Shwe who thinks himself a king. He is corrupted and superstitious. The difference between now and then is that this time it will not be the British that will colonise Burma. It will be China and unlike British rule that lasted for 100 years it will be permanent. The Burmese race of 60 millions will be swallowed up by billions of Chinese.

Nyi Nyi Wrote:
28/05/2011
All credits to so called "patriotic" Myanmar Tatmadaw selling off the country to China.

Venus Wrote:
28/05/2011
Politics is dirty. Today's enemy is tomorrow's friend in politics. On int'l front, no country can be isolated alone. You all and we all did isolate "Myanmar government" in engaging with US, EU, the powerful hegemonies because of No Democracy. So this is the only answer, China and North Korea become alliance of Myanmar to exploit our resources. All we lack is Strategy. You see Thailand's strategy. Never been a colony of any country, able to slice the brains of foreigners, but they can kick them out any time they want, protecting rights only for Thai citizens. In contrast, spirit of Myanmar in heart is not like Thai, that's why no need to copy the same strategy. But we all have to find ways to solve the problems, instead of blunt talking, complaining and blaming. Find Strategies to move our country forward, not to let any more sinking.

Joseph Tan Wrote:
28/05/2011
You have no idea what you had written.
Burma is China's Satellite State? My feet are laughing!!

Tettoe Aung Wrote:
28/05/2011
Spot on U Aung Zaw! Can you imagine what could have happen if the military said that 'they don't love the country at all'?

Unthinkable, isn't it? We can be relieved that at least they say they love the country and not the Chinese. When the military first took over in 1958 there was a joke that, "We have to be afraid of whoever with the trousers, and that includes Chinese women."

Now the only weapon we can protect against China's 'peaceful gobbling' (like 'peaceful rise')is 786 and Min Gyi Min Galay or 'swine flu'. To rely on the military, it will be like asking help from your unfaithful wife against the robber.

tocharian Wrote:
28/05/2011
I was there in 1967 during the anti-Chinese riots in Rangoon and I remember even some of my ethnically Chinese or half-Chinese fellow students from RASU (Rangoon Arts & Science University) were upset at the way CCP (under Mao-Tse-Tung) was trying to export the "Chinese Cultural Revolution" forcefully into Burma. That angered Ne Win a.k.a. Shu Maung (half-Chinese). The Chinese strategy is different now but the goal is the same: control Burma and they have basically succeeded thanks to Than Shwe, that dumb tayoke pay min (King who gave away the country to the Chinese). It's too late now to get out of China's iron grip with all the Chinese Yuan and the Y-chromosomes (China has a surplus of men) embedded now in Burma not to mention all those slaves who want to serve their Chinese Big Brother-in-laws for a handful of Yuan. The country of my ancestors is morally dead.

Long live Mian Dian, the new chopstick country!

Mualcin Wrote:
28/05/2011
Absolutely YES. Do we need to see more evidences? Many Chinese who speak no Burmese carry both Chinese and Burmese citizenship cards traveling back and ford between China and Burma. The Chinese are doing whatever they want in Burma. The Burmese leaders bow down their heads to the Chinese leaders. This Than Shwe's puppet government does not deserve to be called Democratic Government at all. We want Suu Kyi and NLD now.

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bullet The ‘Rule of Law’ in Burma

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