We have to understand that Myanmar is big market for China. Moreover there at least 200,000 Chinese are permanent resident of Myanmar and have lived there since 1982. Myanmar built a huge EPZ area for expatriates, approximately 30 million acres of land in bordering Rakhine state. The EPZ zone is built with the help of Chinese government. Affluent Chinese billionaires invested in this special economic zone with ease and a simple interest rate.

Expansionary nations like China, India, Russia, USA, UK and others will not make the mistake of handing over the Myanmar market. Due to a simple mistake on China’s part, Myanmar’s Yadana gas project went to France, USA and Thailand.

The Yadana gas field is an offshore gas field in the Andaman Sea. It is located about 60 kilometres offshore to the nearest landfall in Myanmar. The Yadana gas field is an offshore gas field in the Andaman Sea. It is located about 60 kilometres (37 mile) offshore to the nearest landfall in Myanmar.

Along the Thailand border with Myanmar the Karen ethnic group has suffered persecution, torture and land grabbing s for the gas field project from 1988 to 2009. But since the Karens were Buddhists, and could easily take shelter in Thailand and Malaysia, the level of this torture was far less than the persecution and torture of the Rohingya.

In order to prevent exclusive Chinese dominance in Myanmar, there will be lot of adulation by India who will offer gifts, subsidies or Indian goods at nominal prices. Even Myanmar does not want to be bound by this flattering nature of India, but India will consider Myanmar a friend due to her own interest of Kaladan Project.

The Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project is a project that will connect the eastern Indian seaport of Kolkata with Sittwe seaport in Rakhine State, Myanmar by sea. In Myanmar, it will then link Sittwe seaport to Paletwa, Chin State via the Kaladan river boat route, and then from Paletwa by road to Mizoram state in Northeast India. Moreover the Indian businessmen have their own interest too, as parts of Rakhnie state is enriched with minerals, such uranium.

Myanmar is modernising its Navy and naval bases with the help of the military and the Chinese Navy. The UK trains the Myanmar Army. This scares India and causes them to be very friendlier with Myanmar and turns its back to Bangladesh.

The reason for modernisation of Burmese Naval bases is an essential aspect of the OBOR (Silk Road) project is the construction of a modern road corridor from the Arakan to the Indian Ocean. When the OBOR corridor is completed, China will put pressure on India from both directions, land and sea.

India is the biggest buyer of Israeli arms in the world. Naturally India is going to seek Israel’s help in its protection. Israel will also keep this trail through India in this region. In the Rakhine special economic zone, the US investor George Soros made huge investments in the gas extraction sector. Soros is known throughout the world as a middleman for Israel’s interest. India is not concerned about the Israel’s investment in the region; India’s role is very passive and jubilant in this regard. All birds of same feather flock together, so Soros has very good understanding with the Chinese Government and has made huge investments within China.

India will do anything to prevent China’s dominance in the region. Alongside the friendly gestures with Bangladesh and Myanmar it could invite the US to have naval bases in Bangladesh or in Myanmar. Both USA and India have a long-term desire to control the South Seas and South-East regional politics. Both of these nations want to have a share and control of the Bay Bengal region that has a sea border with Myanmar and Bangladesh. Further both nations, along with China and Russia, want to have control of the minerals in Rakhine. The US is also looking for a new place for its military base as there is pressure to remove its base from Philippines. So its eye is on Myanmar and parts of Bangladesh region.

Russia’s political goal in this region is to deter the US from making a military base. Moreover it is trying to ensure India does not become pro-American. Russia who is old ally will attempt to keep strengthening the relationship. Russia is in tacit support of Myanmar.

Myanmar is constantly violating our borders and air space due to support by these superpowers and regional powers. But Bangladesh has shown significant patience and was not provoked by the constant efforts of the Myanmar military.

We want to have a peaceful solution. Dialogue is, no doubt, one of the steps that must be taken. Bangladesh must play its card wisely. It is a tough diplomatic task but a doable one. As mentioned, India shall try to engage the US, but then the game changes and it becomes a US-China affair, while Bangladesh and the Rohingyas become a sideshow. So diplomacy, soft or hard, is the only solution now. Our objective is to repatriate the Rohingyas to Myanmar.

We are trying to unveil a new horizon in the East but failed to catch the OBOR as built by China. In my opinion this is due to our too keenness in propagating Islamisation, which has led to scorn from both West and now the East. Now we need to reflect on who we are and what we can do.

Selim Sheris a retired Professor of Economics at Algonquin College, Ottawa, Canada and a researcher on politics in South Asia.

5 Responses to “The international dynamics of Rohingya politics”

  1. Lutful Hiader

    Very well-written. Bangladesh, very regrettably, is caught between rock and a hard place. A very imperative option is to be very active in social media platform to harangue persistently on the conscience of humanity and never let the memory of the carnage fade. Thanks Mr. Sher…

  2. Akteruzzaman Chowdhury

    The early plans for a massive Chinese transit trade through Rakhine was made in 2012. HAQ and ARSA was also planned from that time. Chinese trade will also bring Chinese navy base. This will effect the India-USA strategy. These big players can use the Rohingyas. US navy facilities may start in India coast to counter this and Gwadar, Pakistan. There is some Rohingya leadership in USA also and White House is in touch.

  3. Dr. Md Anwarul Hoque

    “In my opinion this is due to our too keenness in propagating Islamisation, which has led to scorn from both West and now the East.”

    What do you mean? Who is propagating Islamisation? When the country is totally inundated by Indian goods and culture, people are even more westernized than western standard, government is more sympathetic to minorities than Muslims – how do you justify that Bangladesh is propagating Islamisation?

    Our identity is we are Bangladeshi and our majority population is Muslim. Please, do not mix religion with politics. As a nation we need to respect ourselves for what we are. Rabindranath Tagore said, “nobody respect someone who does not respect himself”.

  4. Surjo Dipto

    Myanmar is the only other close neighbour of us with whom, other than India, we have common border in the south. Because of geographical and historical reasons we have remained so much engaged with India that we apparently did not have had no time to develop a cordial political and/or economic relationship with Myanmar.
    We know, once quite a peaceful and civil Burma was converted in to a rogue country and a police state when the military took over power by enacting a coup over there back in 1962. This most anti-people military establishment of Burma continued to act no less than a colonial power and became the sole source of power and owner of wealth by converting 90% of their citizen absolutely poppers. Thus there was no impetus from us to conduct business transactions with them either. Things started to change dramatically when Suu Kyi made a deal with the Generals and assumed power in 2015, but remained a ‘puppet’ in their hands. When the West lifted sanctions, all the neighbouring countries including China, India and Thailand developed more cordial relationship with Myanmar except us. That was a great mistake. Despite this huge problem imposed on us by Burma in the form of forcefully driving almost a million Rohingyas into our land, we should continue to make constructive engagement with our very close and important neighbour. We should make them realise that without solving the Rohingya problem peacefully, it will be not possible for them to develop the SEZs in the Rakhaine province as Bangladesh is an emerging economy of 165 million people having many friends in the international community and already making a meaningful contribution in peace making and peace keeping efforts under the auspices of the UN. And without maintaining peace and semblance of sanity in the Chittagong and Rakhaine regions, even the Chinese and Indian business conglomerates will not continue to invest. And sustainable development will not occur. Bangladesh is a catalyst of development in the region and will remain so in the future. The sooner these mad people of Burma realise this, better will be for both the people of our countries and the region.

    • Omer S Sher

      Thank you, excellent comments. I agree with your comment “Despite this huge problem imposed on us by Burma in the form of forcefully driving almost a million Rohingyas into our land, we should continue to make constructive engagement with our very close and important neighbour. “

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