US Empire to Target Myanmar in its Proxy War Against China

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Route of oil and gas pipelines from Kyauk Phyu, Ramree Island, Myanmar to Kunming/Nanning, China. Courtesy: Shwe Gas Movement

By Ann-Marie de Veer
Saturday 11 April 2015

On Sunday 28 July 2013 a £9.6 million 2400 km pipeline connecting the Shwe, Shwe Phyu and Mya Gas fields in the Bay of Bengal, Myanmar (aka. Burma) to Kunming in southwest China began transferring natural gas to the resource hungry Middle Kingdom. The project, made all the more difficult because of both the inhospitable terrain it traversed and the restive nature of the people in the Kachin, Rakhine and Shan States in the west and northeast of Myanmar, marked a major milestone in China's quest for energy supply route diversity.

Subsequently, the transit of Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) in ocean going tankers from Qatar in the Middle East and the Shwe Natural Gas Project in Myanmar to southern and southwest China via the Straight of Malacca, a narrow 805 km stretch of water between the Malay Peninsular and the Indonesian island of Sumatra and one of the most important shipping routes in the world, practically stopped overnight as the flow of natural gas through the pipeline has spread amongst China's growing domestic infrastructure.

Eighteen months later, on 29 January 2015, a second pipeline adjacent to the first, connecting a newly constructed deepwater oil-terminal on a small islet just off Ramree Island in the Bay of Bengal, Myanmar to southwest China, began pumping crude oil directly to a new refinery in the city of Kunming. Akin to the gas pipeline, the oil pipeline has not only shortened the previous delivery route, saving both time and money in the transportation of these essential commodities, but solidified China's acquisition of a diversified energy supply route and reduced even further the number of ocean going tankers passing through the Straight of Malacca bound for its southern ports.

New deepwater oil terminal and pumping station on a small islet east of Ramree Island, Rakhine State, Myanmar. Courtesy: Open Source

Naturally, Myanmar have been able to tap into the gas pipeline in support of their growing energy needs as their economy continues to develop but, more importantly, China has secured an alternative energy supply route that circumvents the Straight of Malacca.

What could possibly go wrong?

The US Empire's Seventh Fleet is forward deployed, permanently, in Yokosuka, Japan with satellite Units positioned throughout the region. Task Force 73, a sub-Unit of the Seventh Fleet, is co-located with the Singaporean Navy at Tuas and Changi Naval Bases in Singapore. The implication of this deployment is obvious: in being able to control the Straight of Malacca and the Singapore Straight, through which the majority of southeast Asia's energy supplies are routed, the US Empire and its subservient vassals can choke-off deliveries at any time.

Thus, it is in this context that the recent rapprochement of the West with Myanmar should be viewed. The US Empire and its vassal states do not care that the military Junta in the country have simply taken off their Army fatigues and donned civilian clothes whilst continuing to rule in the guise of a political party since the nominally democratic elections of 2010. Nor are they really interested in the much lauded release of Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest, who heads the now legally reconstituted National League for Democracy Party in opposition to the existing rulers, but has failed to gain any traction in instituting any meaningful democratic reforms. In essence, the West's re-engagement of Myanmar is clearly a geo-political strategy to not only subvert the development of a nation that has suffered considerable deprivation at the hands of its authoritarian rulers but to contain, primarily, a growing powerhouse in the heart of Asia, namely China.

Clearly, the Straight of Malacca will retain most of its geo-political and military strategic significance as one of the worlds primary shipping routes between the Indian and Pacific Oceans' for the foreseeable future. Nonetheless, the redeployment of Task Force 73 or elements of the US Empires Fifth Fleet, currently in the Middle East, to the Bay of Bengal are highly likely as the Empire seeks to regain the military strategic initiative in the region.

More importantly, for Myanmar, these now fully functional oil and gas pipelines transiting their country have effectively just placed them on the top of the US Empires list of geo-political and military strategic targets in Asia for state sponsored subversion, insurgency, terrorism and, if necessary, a coup d'état should the current regime not be sufficiently compliant to their wishes.

That Myanmar should beware of any Western involvement in their country cannot be overstated.

The hallmark of a flagging Empire is its fascination for chasing rainbows.
Ann-Marie de Veer