Breakup of China: Will it be in Burma’s interest?

Burma’s rulers, for as long as we can remember, have adopted a “One China” policy. Which isn’t a surprise, because facing dissatisfactions from the country’s non-Burmans through ill-advised policies of its own making, “disintegration of the Union” is a ever present threat. Naturally, they want a reciprocal response from its giant neighbor of its “One Myanmar” policy.

However, according to an article from Small Wars journal, 12 August issue, “U.S. Geopolitics: Afghanistan and the Containment of China,” it may not be too far fetched to say that the likelihood of their fears coming true is increasing.

In this article, the author, Joseph F. Fallon, formerly a Cultural Awareness Instructor at the US Army Intelligence Center, has confirmed Washington’s return to “The Great Game” by its Containment of China policy.

In order to achieve this aim, it has been promoting “alliances” with countries bordering China, through which it hopes to wrest control of natural resources reserves in these “Rimland” nations, to use the word coined by American geostrategist Nicholas John Spykman (1893-1943), “godfather of containment,” who, for some reason, is not quoted by the author.

“Limit China’s access to those reserves and pipelines and China’s economic growth is restricted,” Fallon writes. “If China’s economic growth is restricted, Beijing lacks financing to modernize and expand her military capabilities. Without increased economic and military power, China lacks the ability to project political influence. It is, thereby, prevented from emerging as a regional hegemon.” Or, worse, world hegemon.

As a side effect, it may even trigger economic crisis inside China, erupting into a social revolution. This may in turn lead to the emergence of separate independent states, as in the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 10th and 12th centuries.

“In the short term,” the author says, “US policy seeking to prevent China from becoming a regional hegemon has not been successful.”

But what if it does in the long run? Will Burma, and especially Shan State, be crushed between the two giants fighting for hegemony, as small countries caught in the middle usually do?

Or will it hopefully survive to become a prosperous demilitarized zone? History of course has provided a precedent. During the 12th century China was occupied by the Mongols and the Middle Kingdom divided itself into several states that were not only fighting against the Mongols but also among themselves.

It was then the famous Three Shan Brothers, taking advantage of the situation, had set up kingdoms in today’s central Burma. Later on, the Shan king of Mao Hso Khan Fa (1211-1264) was able to “recover the land of my forefathers” in Yunnan and establish a mini-empire that extended beyond present Burmese territories.

Of course, that is one eventuality that modern-day Anawrahtas, Bayinnaungs and Alaungphyas do not want to be repeated. If so, what they should do is to find ways to make the people, Shan, Kachin, Karens and Burmans alike, live happily under their rule. It does not matter whether or not it is democracy. After all, human beings used to live happily under righteous kings and princes. Because where there is justice, there is always peace — and happiness.

Explanatory Notes for starters

The following are maxims of two famous geostrategists:

Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland;
Who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island;
Who rules the World Island controls the World

Sir Halford John Mackinder

Who controls Rimland rules Eurasia
Who rules Eurasia controls the destinies of the world

Nicholas John Spykman

Heartland        Eurasia
World Island       Eurasia and Africa
Rimland         Countries along the rim of the Heartland


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