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C.I.A. Games: Myanmar morphs to US-China battlefield

21st Century Wire says…

Obama’s pivot towards Asia continues towards a new Cold War with China. 

The US is out of its geopolictical sphere now. Is this imperial overstretch by Washington?

Bertil Lintner

Asia Times

A new reality is emerging amid all the hype about Myanmar’s democratization process and moves to liberalize its political landscape. Myanmar’s drift away from a tight relationship with China towards closer links with the West is signaling the emergence of a new focal point of confrontation in Asia, one where the interests of Washington and Beijing are beginning to collide. 

Rather than being on a path to democracy, Myanmar may find itself instead in the middle of a dangerous and potentially volatile superpower rivalry. That means the traditionally powerful military may not be in the mood to give up its dominant role in politics and society any time soon.  According to sources in Washington, US President Barack Obama’s administration has made Myanmar one of its top foreign policy priorities.

C.I.A. GAMES: War ravaged Myanmar is caught in a tug of war now between US and China (Photo: Tengrin News)

Trade and other exchanges are being encouraged, and, on April 25, acting US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Joseph Yun told Congress the administration is even “looking at ways to support nascent military engagement” with Myanmar as a way of encouraging “further political reforms”.  

The US is also rapidly increasing its intelligence gathering capabilities in Myanmar. The US embassy in the old capital Yangon is now believed to have more intelligence operatives than any other diplomatic mission in Southeast Asia.  Not surprisingly, Beijing is not looking kindly at these developments. In addition to political maneuvering aimed at pressuring the government in Naypyidaw, China has taken some provocative steps to thwart Western influence in Myanmar.   Last year, Chinese arms dealers supplied the United Wa State Army (UWSA), a militia operating along the Sino-Myanmar border, with not only assault rifles, machine-guns, rocket launchers and the HN-5 series man-portable air defense systems, or MANPADS, but also PTL-02 6×6 wheeled “tank destroyers” and another armored combat vehicle identified as Chinese 4×4 ZFB-05s. Now, Jane’s Defence Weekly reports in its April 29 issue that China has supplied the UWSA with several Mi-17 medium-transport helicopters armed with TY-90 air-to-air missiles.   “The provision of a range of new weapons systems – surface-to-air missiles, armored vehicles and now helicopters – appears effectively to be turning the UWSA into a cross-border extension of the PLA,” one of the authors of the article, Anthony Davis of IHS Jane’s, told Asia Times Online, referring to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. “Even in the context of China’s large-scale military support for the Communist Party of Burma in the late 1960s and 1970s, what is happening today is unprecedented.” 

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