Chinese Military Buildup on Myanmar Island
2 April, 2023 | Archana Raj
Myanmar’s Coco Islands have recently been upgraded with military infrastructure, confirming India’s suspicions that the island is used by the Chinese. In satellite images captured in Ja...
Myanmar’s Coco Islands have recently been upgraded with military infrastructure, confirming India’s suspicions that the island is used by the Chinese.
In satellite images captured in January of this year, Maxar Technologies shows the construction of two newly-built hangars at the center of Great Coco Island, as well as several new buildings in the north, along with a large pier that could accelerate naval activities. Additionally, the Coco Islands Airbase’s runway has been widened to 2,300 meters from 1,300 meters a decade ago. The issue was first brought to light by Chatham House, a think tank with its headquarters in London. According to geopolitical experts, the Myanmar Junta is preparing the islands for covert maritime surveillance operations, often in collusion with China, as the Junta is known. Concerns are also increased by the CCP’s (Chinese Communist Party’s) increasing dependence on the junta soon after the coup d’état. However, Beijing’s relations with the Tatmadaw have been on-and-off since its inception on Myanmar’s throne.
Geopolitical intrigue has long surrounded Myanmar’s Coco Islands in the Bay of Bengal. In the early 1990s, Myanmar is alleged to have allowed the Chinese to construct a signals intelligence facility on its archipelago.
Defence Expert, Wing. Commander (Retd) Praful Bakshi said, ”Our democracy has significant economic and strategic interests, so we need to build a strong relationship with the military Junta and get them on our side, negotiate properly and have a relationship with them, not a major one, but an agreement that we will take this action for them.”
Foreign Policy Expert, Vijay Kranti said, ”We should stop bothering about what Myanmar thinks about its relations with China or about Coco Island because now things have gone beyond diplomacy & beyond political discussion.”
For India, the only option left is to stop it in any way possible, even if it requires direct action as India took in Bangladesh and Maldives. This is not an issue left for discussion, it is now the Navy Air Force who have to take the action, he further added.
The possibility of a Chinese presence on the strategic island is not a new one. Reports propose India raised such issues with Myanmar back in 2009. There were numerous reports of China using those islands for military and naval purposes even at the beginning of the 1990s.