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Contact us: chtpcjss@gmail.com

PCJSS/JSS key persons:
Sudha Sindhu Khisa, President/ Rupayan Dewan, Vice President,/Tatindra Lal Chakma, General Secretary/. Responsibility shouldered on 11 July 2013.

Background: The present central committee was elected on 11 July 2013, on the 2nd day of the 3-day long 10th PCJSS national conference. The earlier committee (convening committee) was formed on 10th April 2010 when Mr. Santu Larma convened the 9th national conference (29-31 March 2010) in sheer violation of the party constitution and excluded a few hundred veteran leaders and members and also "formally" expelled 7 top veteran leaders (Chandra Sekhar Chakma, Sudhasindhu Khisa, Rupayan Dewan, Tatindra Lal Chakma, Eng. Mrinal Kanti Tripura, Advocate Shaktiman Chakma and Binoy Krishna Khisa) and also declared their capital punishment. The present leadership is determined to democratise the JSS under a collective leadership.

"The world suffers a lot not because of the violence of the bad people, But because of the silence of the good people." Napoleon (1769-1821).

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Myanmar’s ethno-sectarian clashes: containing China?


 New Age, Dhaka, Op-ed

Sept 6, 2012

http://www.newagebd.com/detail.php?date=2012-10-06&nid=26011#.UG-h8zBj8yM

CONCLUDING PART

Myanmar’s ethno-sectarian clashes: containing China?

by Nile Bowie 

The Geopolitical Component: Thwarting Chinese Economic Development 
The situation in Myanmar is not merely to be understood on an emotional and ethical level. Rather, it is shaped by significant geopolitical and economic realities. Enormous natural gas deposits valued at several billion dollars have been found in the Bay of Bengal off the coast of Arakan State, where predominantly Chinese companies are mining in partnership with the state-owned Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise. [31] Construction has begun on oil and gas transport pipelines from Arakan State to Yunnan Province in China. [32] Sittwe, capital of the Arakan State, is effectively the epicenter of one of China’s most crucial international investments, indispensable for Beijing in its effort to meet the increasing energy demands of its densely populated southwestern provinces. Additionally, ongoing ethnic conflicts in Myanmar correspond directly with large-scale Chinese development projects. Similar to other joint US-Saudi sponsored forms of destabilization; the modus operandi of these external networks has been to exacerbate long-standing ethnic and religious tensions to bring about far-reaching unrest. Political analyst Eric Draitser writes:
This project, a twin oil and gas pipeline, which would traverse Myanmar to link China’s southwestern Yunnan province with the Indian Ocean would, consequently, provide the Chinese land-based access to energy imports from Africa and the Middle East. Because of US naval dominance, not being completely reliant on commercial shipping is an integral aspect of the overall Chinese strategy. The pipeline itself is not the only issue for the Chinese. Sittwe is the site of the major Chinese-funded port, which, aside from being the starting point of the pipeline, is a vital access point to Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Imports such as minerals and other raw materials from Africa as well as oil from the Middle East would be shipped through this port (along with the Pakistani port of Gwadar) for sale on the Chinese market. It is for this reason that Sittwe is of crucial significance to Chinese economic development. Naturally, as Sittwe and the rest of the Rakhine state descends into chaos and the international community clamors for some form of intervention, the port, pipeline and other projects cannot continue as planned. [33]
The development of China’s economy has been accompanied by a dependence upon offshore resources, primarily from reserves in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Angola. For Beijing, energy security is essential to the continued growth of its economy, which, in turn, ensures domestic political stability. 80 percent of China’s oil imports currently pass through the Strait of Malacca, a narrow waterway located between Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, linking the Indian Ocean to the South China Sea and Pacific Ocean. [34] The importance of the Myanmar-China Oil and Gas Pipeline, consisting of two parallel oil and gas pipelines, is its function as an alternative transport route for crude oil imports from the Middle East to potentially bypass the Strait of Malacca, thus deterring the ability of hostile naval powers to disrupt a vital energy corridor to China. The United States has announced its plans to reposition 60 percent of its navy to the Asia Pacific region by 2020, as cited in the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance report entitled, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense.” This crucial document highlights Washington’s growing emphasis on containing China’s military buildup in a move to enhance American presence in one of the most economically dynamic parts of the world. [35]
Washington’s endorsement of a strategy designed to contain China is attributable to US foreign policy theoreticians such as Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution, co-founder of the neoconservative political organization, Project for the New American Century. Kagan’s 1997 article, “What China Knows That We Don’t: The Case for a New Strategy of Containment,” argues that the most effective means of preserving the present international order that “serves the needs of the United States and its allies, which constructed it,” is not to accommodate the peaceful rise of China, but to strengthen American military capabilities in the region and to work towards political change in Beijing:
The changes in the external and internal behavior of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s resulted at least in part from an American strategy that might be called “integration through containment and pressure for change.” Such a strategy needs to be applied to China today. As long as China maintains its present form of government, it cannot be peacefully integrated into the international order. [36]
Kagan describes how China’s leadership interprets Washington’s interests in the Asia-Pacific as a move to “severely limit their own ability to become the region’s hegemon,” namely by countering Chinese influence in Southeast Asia. Reports issued by the United States Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute reflect the adoption of Kagan’s containment methodology. “String of Pearls: Meeting the Challenge of China’s Rising Power Across the Asian Littoral,” authored by Lieutenant Colonel Christopher J Pehrson, highlights China’s geopolitical interests and economic presence in several regions, which include a container shipping facility in Chittagong, Bangladesh, the construction of a deep water port in Sittwe, Myanmar, in addition to the construction of a navy base in Gwadar, Pakistan, among other locations. Reports issued by the Washington Times confirm that Pehrson’s containment strategy has been employed as policy, reissued in a paper entitled “Energy Futures in Asia,” produced by defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. [37]
It appears that the sectarian violence in Arakan State beginning in June 2012 is the likely result of covert intelligence operations aiming to destabilize western Myanmar to counter China’s vital economic investment in the region. This is in line with Washington’s policy objectives of curbing Beijing’s influence in Southeast Asia. Reforms introduced by President Thein Sein have opened the door to mass foreign investment, the political ascension of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and the presence of American NGOs associated with and financially supported by US State Department, including Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Open Society Foundations, U.S. Campaign for Burma, and others. [38] While the United States has placed its support behind the National League for Democracy in the person of Suu Kyi, she has in turn exercised her influence to execute political and economic objectives that adhere to US foreign policy.
Suu Kyi and a stable of Western-funded NGOs have successfully used their influence to block the construction of a joint energy project between the Myanmar Ministry of Electric Power, Asia World Company, and the China Power Investment Corporation. The Myitsone Dam project in the northern Myanmar state of Kachin would have been the world’s 15th largest dam, set to be located on the Irrawaddy River in the northern Myanmar state of Kachin. The dam is intended to export a large percentage of its power to China’s Yunnan province, which would be taxed to provide revenue for Myanmar’s government and future development before being turned over fully to Myanmar after a 50-year contract. [39] While groups such as Human Rights Watch use their influence to oppose the construction the Myanmar-China Oil and Gas Pipeline and other projects under the guise of defending human rights, a remarkable lack of criticism is attributed toward Western oil firms operating in the country. [40]
In 2005, a group of villagers in Myanmar filed a lawsuit against Unocal, an oil firm that merged with the American-owned Chevron, and was later obliged to compensate the victims by court order. [41] Western corporations at the time exploited a legal loophole that allowed them to operate in Myanmar in defiance of US-led sanctions because their investments were agreed upon prior to the sanctions being issued. [42] Alongside the French-owned Total, Chevron was accused of collaborating with Myanmar’s military junta, the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), by hiring military personnel to illegally confiscate land. Reports claim that soldiers used tactics of torture and intimidation to force villagers into unpaid labor during the construction of the Yadana Gas Project, a pipeline project that was established to transport natural gas from Myanmar’s Andaman Sea into Thailand. [43] While Beijing’s economic investment projects are sharply criticized by Aung San Suu Kyi, she has invited the very same Western corporations into Myanmar, despite the highly documented misconduct of these companies:
“I have to say that I find that Total is a responsible investor in the country, even though there was a time when we did not think they should be encouraging the military regime by investing in Burma. They were sensitive to human rights and environmental issues and now that we’ve come to a point in time when we would like investors who are sensitive to such issues, I am certainly not going to persuade Chevron or Total to pull out.” [44]
It would appear that the clear preference toward Western companies held by Myanmar’s opposition is maintained in exchange for the continued rhetorical support they receive from the United States and Europe – despite those companies presiding over the very same human rights abuses that Chinese firms are accused of. The political undercurrents of Western support are laid bare as American corporations begin to fully engage in investment opportunities throughout the country. Political analyst F. William Engdahl writes:
The US corporations approaching Burma are handpicked by Washington to introduce the most destructive “free market” reforms that will open Myanmar to instability. The United States will not allow investment in entities owned by Myanmar’s armed forces or its Ministry of Defense. It also is able to place sanctions on “those who undermine the reform process, engage in human rights abuses, contribute to ethnic conflict or participate in military trade with North Korea.” The United States will block businesses or individuals from making transactions with any “specially designated nationals” or businesses that they control — allowing Washington, for example, to stop money from flowing to groups “disrupting the reform process.” It’s the classic “carrot and stick” approach, dangling the carrot of untold riches if Burma opens its economy to US corporations and punishing those who try to resist the takeover of the country’s prize assets. Oil and gas, vital to China, will be a special target of US intervention. [45]

Conclusion
Myanmar faces innumerable challenges in its pursuit of development. They range from combating forms of racism and violence that target Myanmar’s ethnic minorities to the lack of basic infrastructure and civic educational initiatives to maintaining national sovereignty while introducing liberalizing economic reforms. Although Myanmar’s civilian government led by Thein Sein has issued meaningful reforms, many exiles and activists perceive this administration to be a new face on an old and belligerent regime – despite being praised domestically for its position on expelling Rohingyas. As the country approaches its highly anticipated national elections in 2015, a victory for either side will likely not sit well with the other. Given the Western support allotted to Aung San Suu Kyi and her political party, it can be expected that the ruling government – should it win the 2015 elections – would be categorically condemned. Myanmar’s diverse mosaic of politically oppressed ethnic groups put the national government in a sensitive position; continued Western support for their autonomy or independence could give rise to the formation of break-away states, too small to assert their sovereignty at the foot of multinational corporations.
It remains very unlikely that Myanmar will repeal the 1982 Citizenship Law that removed basic rights from the Rohingya and other minorities. However, President Thein Sein has pledged to open schools for Rohingya, insinuating that they would be allowed to remain in the country. [46] Myanmar’s government would benefit by appeasing advocacy groups and lifting restrictions on humanitarian agencies to ensure they can freely move to remote villages in order to deliver necessary medical assistance, with governmental oversight.– Additionally, such agencies could investigate credible allegations of human rights violations and provide legal counsel to those detained in northern Arakan State. Greater focus should be placed on reconciliation talks between ethnic minority groups, although very little likelihood exists that such suggestions would be meaningfully applied given the tense climate of racial prejudice in Myanmar. In his 1934 novel, Burmese Days, author George Orwell writes:

 “To talk, simply to talk! It sounds so little, and how much it is! When you have existed to the brink of middle age in bitter loneliness, among people to whom your true opinion on every subject on earth is blasphemy, the need to talk is the greatest of all needs.”
The author is a Kuala Lumpur-based American writer and photographer and frequent contributor to Global Research. He explores issues of terrorism, economics and geopolitics.

Notes
31.    Shwe gas and pipelines projects, Bank Track, August 18, 2012
32.    China takes risky step with Myanmar pipelines, Reuters, February 03, 2012
33.    Towards a New “Humanitarian Front”? Myanmar and the Geopolitics of Empire, Centre for Research on Globalization, June 20, 2012
34.    China’s Energy Consumption and Opportunities for U.S.-China Cooperation To Address the Effects of China’s Energy Use, U.S. Navy War College, June 14, 2007
35.    Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense, United States Department of Defense, Janurary 2012
36.    What China Knows That We Don’t: The Case for a New Strategy of Containment, Carnegie Endowment, Janurary 20, 1997
37.    China builds up strategic sea lanes, The Washington Times, Janurary 17, 2005
38.    US eases Myanmar restrictions for NGOs, AFP, April 17, 2012
39.    Burma: Natural Gas Project Threatens Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, March 24, 2007
40.    Burma dam: Why Myitsone plan is being halted, BBC, September 30, 2011
41.    Killings alleged at Chevron’s Burma pipeline, SFGate, April 29, 2009
42.    Burmese Project Tests Unocal Resolve, The New York Times, May 22, 1997
43.    UNOCAL in Burma, Santa Clara University, November 3, 2005
44.    UPDATE 4-Suu Kyi says Myanmar needs responsible investment, Reuters, June 14, 2012
45.    Obama’s Geopolitical China ‘Pivot’: The Pentagon Targets China, Centre for Research on Globalization, August 24, 2012
46.    Burma’s President Tells VOA He Will Open Schools for Rohingya, Voice of America, August 14, 2012

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