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NEWS- Burma May Become Another Unwi

Subject: NEWS- Burma May Become Another Unwilling Province of China

1)Burma May Become Another Unwilling Province of China
2)A growing presence from next door spurs a rethink in Yangon

Burma May Become Another Unwilling Province of China
Rangoon Post  -  5/99

Over the centuries, China has different invaded ethinic by force or
passive absorbtion.  Then they moved on to border coutries now known as
Burma, Thailand, Vietnam and Taiwan.  All were invaded and occupied for
varying periods of time.  Then in the 1950's they make a so-called
treaty with the Tibetans and move in and take over.  

  Now in Mandalay, Burma... the Chinese population has increased an
estimated 30% of the total populus of Mandalay.  These arn't the native
Mandalay - Chinese but Mandarin speaking Chinese from accross the
border.  Accross the same border where another language and culture once

  "Chinatown used to be just around 80th Street," recalls a local
Burmese. "Now the whole town is Chinatown. The Chinese have bought
property all over."   The human influx is but one facet of a wider
expansion of Chinese influence into a strategic Southeast Asian nation,
which has stirred concern in Myanmar and beyond. "Myanmar is close
to being a Chinese satellite," says an Asian diplomat in Bangkok.


A growing presence from next door spurs a rethink in Yangon

Dermot Tatlow

WHEN THE SUN SETS in Mandalay, northern Myanmar, the money heads to the
intersection of 30th and 66th streets. Bright lights, loud music and a
lively crowd attest to the popularity of new Chinese restaurants serving
grilled meat, fish and beer. Many of the entrepreneurs and customers
are not traditional Mandalay Chinese. They are Mandarin-speaking "new
Chinese" - from across the China border or the city's emerging suburbs.
Indeed, the presence of ethnic Chinese in Mandalay has been growing
By some estimates, they now constitute up to 30% of the local
"Chinatown used to be just around 80th Street," recalls a local Burmese.
"Now the whole town is Chinatown. The Chinese have bought property all
Nor are the new arrivals just an urban phenomenon. After two years of
flooding in southern China, many farmers there have moved across the
ill-controlled border into northern Myanmar. Estimates run from hundreds

thousands to well over a million during the period. The virtually
influx is, as one Thailand-based foreign expert puts it, "changing the
demographic balance in north Burma." It has also made locals
unhappy with both the migrants and the ruling junta in Yangon. "The
leaders have opened the door because without Chinese support, they
have lasted," says one dissident Burmese intellectual. "For that, the
Burmese people can never forgive them."

Even so, the influx is occurring in border areas Yangon scarcely
Most affected are Kokang district and regions of northern Shan state run
former insurgents now in fragile ceasefire accords with the junta. The
guerrillas include ethnic Chinese of the ex-Burma Communist Party and
larger and well-armed United Wa State Army - both active in the
trade. "The Chinese government was paying flood relief of RMB 20,000 a
family," says a diplomatic source. "The going rate for a Wa guard to
the other way is RMB 5,000, while another 5,000 can buy identity
Typically, ID cards can be purchased from Burmese families in which
just died, then altered and resold to a new migrant. In the border area,
whole Chinese villages are springing up.

The human influx is but one facet of a wider expansion of Chinese
into a strategic Southeast Asian nation, which has stirred concern in
Myanmar and beyond. Following the 1988 and 1989 crackdowns on democracy
movements in both Myanmar and China, close ties - military, economic and
political - developed between two authoritarian regimes facing
hostility. Attracting most attention have been Chinese military sales to
Yangon, involving jet fighters, armored vehicles and naval vessels.
Estimated at $1 billion to $2 billion in the past decade, the sales
the Myanmar Army to expand from 180,000 men to 450,000 today.

But Chinese aid and investment have also gone into infrastructure and
industrial projects, ranging from dams, bridges and roads to factories
ports. And China is interested in opening an Irrawaddy River trade route
from its Yunnan province to the Bay of Bengal, as cheap consumer goods
the Chinese southwest flood markets in northern Myanmar. "Myanmar is
to being a Chinese satellite," says an Asian diplomat in Bangkok.

Well, not quite. Yangon, worried by its dependency on China and a
groundswell of popular discontent over Chinese penetration, is trying to
pull back from the embrace of its giant neighbor. What was a virtual
strategic alliance in the mid-1990s is now infused with a new wariness.
junta, says an Asian intelligence source, "wants to diversify into other

The first signs of a rethink came in late 1997, when the junta, renamed
State Peace and Development Council, instituted a new regime for border
trade with its neighbors. Prompted by Yangon's widening trade deficit
and a
loss of hard currency and natural resources, the scheme sought to bring
booming frontier commerce under government control. Among Myanmar's
neighbors, China was the hardest hit. From November 1997 to mid-1998,

frontier was officially closed to much of the trade between Muse in
and Ruili in Yunnan. "Ruili almost died," says one observer. "A boom
suddenly went bust." The Chinese pressed the generals to reopen the
border -
which they did in June last year. But with new controls in place, trade
declined from $659 million in 1996 and $749 million in 1997 to $400
last year.

The row heralded a new prickliness in bilateral ties. High-level visits
dropped off. When intelligence chief Khin Nyunt goes to Beijing next
he will be the first Burmese leader to do so since October 1996. Nor has
Yangon shown much interest in the touted Irrawaddy route from China to
Bay of Bengal. Floated in 1996, the scheme would allow Chinese goods to
bypass the port of Yangon - long plagued by silting and shallow draft -
give southwest China a key commercial outlet into the Indian Ocean
It would also give Beijing a strategic foothold there. "By early 1998,
on river access had come to a grinding halt," says a diplomat. "Right
there's nothing happening." The projected development of a deep-sea port
Kyaukphyu, in which a Singapore company was interested, also seems on
back burner.

Military sales have leveled off as well. In the past year, new Chinese
have been delivered and Myanmar has bought some Karakorum trainer
co-produced by China and Pakistan. But significantly, says a senior
diplomatic source, the junta turned down a Chinese offer of a
credit for military purchases late last year. Yangon not only wants to
diversify its supply sources, says an analyst, but is "unhappy about the
quality of some Chinese systems."

The new skepticism is not one-sided. The Chinese themselves are
frustrated with Myanmar's inability to sort out its international
relationships or kick-start its floundering economy. Chinese companies
businessmen have been badly burned by their investments in an economy
bedeviled by rising prices for essentials and an urban inflation rate of
to 80%. "The Bank of China refuses to lend any more capital to Chinese
that want to invest," says one diplomat. Beijing was also miffed when
recently considered giving the lease on domestic routes to Taiwan's EVA
which wanted to buy into Myanmar Airways.

India has benefited from the new tensions between Myanmar and China.
1996, New Delhi has been trying to improve its relations with Yangon to
counter Chinese influence and curb insurgents from its own troubled
northeast, who find sanctuary inside Myanmar. India's Border Roads
Organization has been upgrading a route on the Burmese side of the
And in late February, Indian Foreign Secretary K. Raghunath visited
Yangon -
the first such trip in six years.

Still, there is only so much that India can bring to the table. And
which Myanmar joined in 1997, has been beset by the Crisis and unable to
provide investments that could have lifted the Burmese economy. Yangon
well be able to attenuate Chinese penetration, but for the foreseeable
future, China's economic embrace will remain a fact of life. Equally

inevitable but far more difficult to temper will be the continuing flow
Chinese migrants into northern Myanmar. Soon, that influx will be
not in the thousands but in the millions.