News reports published in Myanmar recently have accused China of supplying sophisticated arms to Arakan Army armed group, a declared terrorist organisation in Myanmar, and other armed groups in Myanmar to have an upper hand over India and Myanmar.
According to military sources in Myanmar, approximately 95 per cent of Arakan Army funding comes from China. It further confirmed that the Arakan Army has approximately 50 MANPADS (Man-Portable Air Defense Systems) surface-to-air missiles.
Arms brought in to Myanmar by China through Bangladesh
According to reports, China had earlier this year, managed to bring in a huge consignment of weapons and ammunition through Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts to Myanmar. A consignment containing 500 assault rifles, 30 Universal Machine Guns, 70000 rounds of ammunition and a huge stock of grenades were brought in by sea and offloaded at the Monakhali beach not far from the coastal junction of Myanmar and Bangladesh in the third week of February. A Rakhine source close to the Arakan Army claimed that the shipment included FN-6 Chinese MANPADS. The report said that definite evidence had surfaced that the consignment got a smooth passage and a trouble-free landing at the Monakhali beach in Myanmar.
“An object lesson in diplo-terrorism is the leverage over Myanmar and India that China gained by arming the Arakan Army, operating in the corridor from North-East India over Myanmar’s Chin and Rakhine states to the Indian Ocean,” Licas News reported.
The source revealed that by doing so, China wants to expand its area of influence towards western Myanmar that is, the India-Myanmar border.
“China is playing a multi-dimensional game in South Asia. China wants to weaken India. India is in a war with Pakistan and does not want to make a new enemy of Myanmar,” said an Australian academic.
“China does not want Indian influence to increase in Myanmar,” according to an Indian source. “They want a monopoly.”
Meanwhile, a diplomat in the region said that “seven different groups (including Arakan Army) in Myanmar received Chinese arms and support.” He said that the “Chinese object has always been to keep the West away from Myanmar by keeping Myanmar (a) weak and closed state with a poor humanitarian record.”
The extent of China’s influence on the Arakan Army armed group was apparent when under China’s influence, the terrorist organisation had sabotaged India’s $220 million road construction project in Myanmar in 2017-18.
The project was awarded to the Delhi-based contractor, C&C Constructions in June 2017. The clearence to the project was subsequently delayed by the Myanmar government until 2018. Eventually. when the project took off, the Arakan Army began to kidnap workers and crew members including Indian citizens, sabotaged vehicles and construction materials.
Arakan Army, which is aided by China, is the largest terrorist group in Myanmar
Arakan Army is the largest terrorist group in the Rakhine state of Myanmar and is the armed wing of the political party, United League of Arakan (ULA).
On March 23, the Myanmar government designated the Arakan Army and ULA as terrorist organisations for “inciting fear” and disrupting the stability of the country by attacking government and civilian targets.
In 2019, the group allegedly attacked four police stations, causing 20 casualties among police. Some of the police died from their wounds.
China did not condemn the attack but instead said: “China supports all parties in Myanmar to promote reconciliation and peace talks and strongly opposes any form of violent attacks”.
Galwan valley stand-off
Recently border tension between India and China that flared in early May took a more violent turn when troops clashed in the Galwan Valley in Eastern Ladakh and India lost 20 soldiers, including a commanding officer.
Though Beijing remained reticent on the number of casualties suffered by it, the Indian Government said that the Chinese side endured heavy casualties with close to 43-45 PLA soldiers been seriously injured or killed in the clashes. Now, a US intel report has stated that at least 35 Chinese soldiers have perished in the brawl at the Galwan Valley.
The killing of the Indian soldiers marks the Indian Army’s worst losses since the Kargil War in 1999 and signifies the most intense military combat between India and China since 1967 when about 80 Indian soldiers and at least 300 Chinese PLA troops were killed in the course of the savage skirmishes that broke out near the Nathu La and Cho Lo passes, the strategic gateway to the crucial Chumbi valley.