Burma Neighbouring CountriesMyanmar Neighbouring Countries
Myanmar and its neighbors: Geopolitics of natural gas
There is currently no headway in reinstating Burma's democracy or even in the preparation of a more civil influential state. On the contrary, the internal picture seems to be worsening, with many new accounts of violent acts, expulsion and other forms of oppression.
Burma's army has recently relocated its formal capitol from the trade and culture city of Yangon to a more sheltered, recently built capitol in Pyinmana. The Yangon was probably regarded by the régime as too vulnerable from a political view. Burma's illegitimacy and repressive character was a central issue of Burma's policy in Europe and the United States and was also a major issue for the ASEAN.
Some of the ASEAN states, India and China have tried to play down or even disregard this issue in order not to weaken their domestic interests in strong ties with Burma's rulers. Thailand, India and China's concern about the country's future in the field of international and domestic climate change is a major factor in all three countries' relationship with Burma.
India and China have committed themselves in principal to cooperation in the sphere of international cooperation on the subject of international cooperation on renewable energies in order to prevent expensive rivalry. With Burma, this does indeed seem to be a problem. Immediate problem is the rivalry between India and China for natural Gas from Shwe, a recently explored offshore Arakan.
Fearing to lose control of the Myanmar government, both India and Thailand have adopted a "pragmatic" attitude to the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), while China tends to assist Burma's leaders when they come under outside pressures to implement reform. While all three of Burma's neighbors will have a keen sense of Burma's strategy, Burma's importance to China's safety policy needs special heed.
The country is relying on Burma for monitoring the Indian Ocean and entering the Strait of Malacca, a vital channel for the supply of China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan with essential petroleum and other goods. Approximately 80% of all shipments of crude to China are currently transported by tanker through the Malacca Strait.
Defense officials in China are concerned about an embargo in case of conflict or serious crises in their relations with the United States. China's aid to Burma's harbor developments is tightly tied to China's goal of reducing its dependency on oil transport through the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea.
Burma's present Chinese-Indian shwe fields rivalries could lead to further competitive pressure to help the Myanmar government build deepwater harbours, marine installations, as well as link infrastructures such as highways and runways and, of course, pipeline systems. Burma's pro-democracy movement's demands for the EU and the US to tighten their present sanction systems are based on the premise that it would be hard for Burma's army to stay in office without external investment and investment.
This may be the case, but the probability that Burma could be commercially insulated is increasing. Burma's most precious exports are methane which is becoming more and more important for Burma's neighbors and important trade relations. Throughout Burma, Thailand has already made significant investments in Burma's supply of methane and is currently signing new power agreements with the state.
That is why China is playing a pivotal part as a commercial player. His trafficking with Burma in 2005 totaled $1.2 billion out of a $5 billion figure. 2 ] China will further strengthen its relations with Burma by constructing two new tunnels through the state, one for crude and the other for pro-dies.
When its new pipelines are implemented, India will become a third important part of the Burma government. In view of the crucial importance of Burma's gas, both as an important resource for the country's army and as an important element of the country's neighbour states' ongoing strategy for securing the country's future is the geopolitical perspective of Burma's own biogas.
The book discusses the story of Burma's production of crude and natural resources, the country's politics and the key actors in the country, focusing on the looming Indian-China conflict over Burma's natural resources. Finally, the narrative sketches some fundamental reflections of the assessment and suggests questions that should be considered in an urgently needed review of how the Burma regime can be "constructively involved".
CNG extraction began in 1974 in the Aphyauk at Taikkyi Township in the lower Irrawaddy River delta. 15 ] The first international firms to buy off-shore pipelines were Premier Fuel (UK) and Total (France) from 1990. While the disengagement of Burma's West has undoubtedly had repercussions for these operations, the effects on Burma's economies have been insignificant as economies such as Thailand, China, India and Russia have expanded their relations with Burma.
Burma's government relies on income from international investments, especially in the extraction of crude petroleum and cereals. Burma's natural resource base is very appealing to Thailand, India, China, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. Burma's top-level ³cgoodwill³d mission to Moscow in April 2006 was looking for Russia to invest in hydroelectric and communication assets.
Russia also offered to provide a number of weapons in return for Burma's natural resource supplies, such as Tor -M1 and Buk-M1-2 aerial defense and MiG-29 fighter aircraft. In the opinion of some experts, this was done "in an effort to end the China monopoly". However, an alternate reading is that these plants would consider both China's and Russia's interests, as the relevant equipment is also used by the China Forces.
Commentators called Russia's aid to Burma "a post-President Vladimir Putin's recent trip to China a step towards enhancing the region's security". 34 ] From the SPDC's point of views, one of the main benefits of cooperation with Russia is to make the SPDC less dependent on China.
A further element is Russia's support for Burma's atomic research program. All ASEAN, Australia and India are striving to "constructively involve" Burma's government, and this, as well as China's strong collaboration with the Social Democratic Party (SPDC), is seen by opponents as an erosion of the US and EU penalties. Others, however, take a more practical approach, also taking into account the impact of Western sanctioning on Burma's economical and geo-political relations, as described above.
Also in 2005, China and Russia vetoed Burma's US policy by vetoing a US movement in the UN Security Council to put Burma into practice. Following threats by the US and the EU to postpone the ASEAN meeting if Burma takes over the presidency in 2006, the Burmese leaders declared their readiness to renounce the land and take over the ASEAN presidency in rotation.
However, at an ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) session, China's Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing decided to jump over the safety issue on the order of business and instead traveled to Burma to show his support for the Burmese people. These are just a few of the ongoing manoeuvres on Burma, with China, Thailand and other ASEAN states, the United States, India, the EU, Australia and Russia taking the lead.
Burma should have an interest in diversifying its external relationships, but the army has done so only to a certain degree and has favoured its relationship with China. Of course Burma has intensified its business relationship with other neighbors such as Laos, Thailand and India, as well as partners such as Vietnam and Russia.
But when Burma recently approved China's pipe line project for both fuel and energy, Burma was drawn even further into the interest of China. Secondly, if the present plan is implemented, Burma's existing biogas pipes will lead to two new and important emerging economies for Burma's energy, India and China.
Myanmar can then compete with its three natural-gas consumers for the best possible tariff. India has been trying to reinforce its relations with Burma in recent years as a consequence of China's growing presence in Burma and the trade in weapons along the Indian-Burmese frontier. A Memorandum of Understanding was concluded in Yangon in 2004 by the Indian, Burma and Thai Ministries of External Relations to improve communications between the three states.
These include a 1,400 km motorway linking north-eastern India with Mandalay and Yangon and on to Bangkok, which would help open up inter-country commerce and give India entry to Burma's harbours. Undoubtedly, a proposed deep-sea harbour in Dawei and a new motorway linking him to Kanchanaburi in Thailand would help further develop business with him.
Dawei, the Tanintharyi Divison's main city, is located on the long, small coastline in the south of Burma. Although India and China face each other with significant mistrust, the two nations, which have significantly enhanced their own bi-lateral relationships, also face some shared "non-traditional" safety threats from Burma, such as illicit drug dealing (opium and methamphetamines), traffic in humans and displaced persons, the spreading of HIV/AIDS and, more recently, AIJF.
After Afghanistan, Burma has become known as the second biggest manufacturer of illegal opioum. Burma also has a great deal of traffic in people; there is a constant stream of displaced people to Thailand, China, Bangladesh and India; and it is believed that the HIV bug is on the up. It has been suggested that more than 1% of Burma's populace is HIV-positive.
Burma has one of the worst AIDS outbreaks in the area and is also said to be an epicentre for new tribes of drug-resistant HIV/AIDS. 64 ] While the frontier city of Ruili has become a thriving trade center, it has also become a focal point of China's effort to stop the spreading of HIV from Burma to China.
Drug, HIV and criminal matters are serious enough, but the debate they generate also reflects an overall concerns of Burma's neighbors about the country's overall policy soundness. Despite having received considerable revenues from the purchase of Thai methane in recent years and continued to receive ample humanitarian and infrastructural assistance from China, India and other nations, there are signs that the Burmese SDC could lead Burma into an increasingly deep economic downturn.
Onshore reserves of methane have become the mainstay of Burma's army and will become more and more important in the coming years. In view of the increasing importance of the use of imported and imported forms of energy, the evaluation of the commercial impact of penalties should take into consideration the issue of the place of imported and imported petroleum gases. Were significant revenue from the export of gases to be withdrawn from the government, it would pose a genuine threat to the government, and this could persuade the Social Democratic Party (SPDC) to agree to them.
A more practicable way of involving the government could turn out to be by means of innovation, especially if this commitment includes the actors involved in Burma's natural-gas production. Thailand's high investments in Burma's natural gas industry and Burma's emerging Chinese-Indian rivals over Burma's natural-gas have no doubt made it easy for Burma's army chiefs to resist the pressures for policy reform.
China sees its relationships with India, Japan and the US as having a major impact on its geo-political interests in Burma. Unless the fundamental tension that characterizes these relationships (especially Chinese-Japanese relations) is radically changed, China will consider it vital to continue its impact in Burma.
There is then a possibility that further riots in Burma, whether in connection with civil disturbances or resistance to China's domination, will be confronted with a further claim of China's oversight. It is a great scourge for all efforts to build Burma's democratic system. With Burma likely to stay under heavy China pressure for the time being, the most likely outcome for Burma's policy performance would be the favourable trend in China itself.
There is a potential for a strong, flourishing and democratising China to deal with Burma in a constructive manner, and this could also be the best opportunity to resolve the present Burma economic and social upheaval. By now, China may be the crux of Burma's destiny. Whereas neighboring nations - especially India and Thailand, but also Australia and Japan - can have an important role to played, China has a much greater leveraging effect.
It is therefore vital for those who want to positively affect Burma to explore ways to stimulate changes with the proactive involvement of China, whether through sanction, constructively engaged and/or any kind of dialog.