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/* Written 18 May 11:00am 1998 by drunoo@xxxxxxxxxxxx in igc:reg.burma */
/* ------------" Concerning Chinese bases in Burma "----------- */

On 11 May 1998, Indian authorities detonated 3 nuclear bombs, with
which few days later followed by exploding 2 similar devices. The mass
media focuses its analysis on India's long-held nuclear ambition and
the armed-races between Pakistan and India on this event. Although
these seem to have been principal reasons for India to test its nuclear
devices, there is a subtle concern by Indians about the threat from
China. Few days prior to these nuclear tests, the defence minister of
India was expressing security concern in connection with Chinese Navy 
using Burmese territory as the intelligence gathering bases to monitor 
Indian coasts.

There were reports, as early as 1993-94 in Far Eastern Economic
Review, of the Chinese Navy using the Burmese Islands as their
intelligence bases. The indication about the Chinese Navy's presence 
in Burmese bases at that time , however, were unsubstantiated: it 
is mixed with Chinese technicians helping to build Burmese Navy 
communication bases or otherwise. Nevetherless, judging by the seriousness 
of the communications from India, it is clear now that the Burmese 
army eventually has allowed the Chinese Navy to use Burma's territory.

There are also indications that  Indian's policy towards Burma
and, to some extent, ASEAN's engagement policy on Burma have been
influenced by China. India's policy shift on Burma in early
1994 appears to have been driven by the fear of China influencing on
the Burmese military. In the case of ASEAN, it is not at first quite clear
its Burma's policy being driven by such security concerns. It is of
my knowledge that in May 1993, ASEAN had brokered some humanitarian
impasse on Burma in exchange for its membership. ASEAN concerns
regarding Burma-China nexus also appear to be the underlying factor.
[ As a digression on ASEAN membership on Burma: it was actually
overwhelmed by the debate on East-West divide on human rights and
democratic governance; and some Asian politicians trying to point
scores over that debate. An unfortunate thing about such debate is
that it feeds Burmese junta's illusion about itself (more on this
note later).]

To my observation, whenever the States are being faced with such
substantial security threat or a potential security threat, the
Governments normally do not respond or take actions - except the
super powers -- publicly. Just like India and ASEAN have done the
counter-balancing measures about China's influence on Burma in
1993-97, the diplomatic corps usually do things quietly and assumed
that the sophisticated public -- it means everybody -- understand.
In a way, this kind of behaviour by governments may be considered as
some form of diplomatic code of conduct.

The way the Indian Defence Minister expressed concern about Chinese
Navy in Burma, therefore, can be viewed as an extra-ordinary act.
The Minister seems to be giving the warning about such situation
to the Burma's opposition groups. On the other hand, those Burmese
military generals -- the dumbs and idiots -- have to be told-off
about the situation just as it actually is. In any case, we -- the
Burmese people -- are very grateful to the Indian Defence Minister
for giving such information to us.


Shock waves from India's nuclear blasts, in many ways, will hit the
Burmese junta's remaining legitimacy. The Burmese junta has always
claimed itself to be the sole protector of Burma's sovereignty. The
oppositions are accused by the military of "axe-handles", "foreign
lackeys" and "puppets" of alien forces. In reality, this is
certainly not true. Instead, it is the Burmese junta who fails to
protect our sovereignty and, sadly, that is the Burmese army which
becoming a Chinese lackey.

We, as the human rights and democracy campaigners for Burma, to be
involved in such serious security issues, of course, is beyond our
own resources and capacity. Nonetheless, concerned as we are, we
must be writing to the World's leaders about this situation on Burma
and, of course, must deliver strong moral messages to the Burmese
Generals who must take the responsibility.

With best regards, U Ne Oo.

/* Endreport */
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