The Flag of Myanmar on naypyidaw in the world map

Myanmar-Rohingya Situation: 5 Geopolitical Effects You Need to Know

1. Tug of war for Myanmar

China and the US are playing a tug of war for increased influence in Myanmar, due to the abundance of natural resources. With the recent international opposition to Myanmar’s expulsion of the Rohingya population, the two superpowers have taken different sides of the spectrum to try to gaining influence in the area. In spite of the Rohingya issue that has been escalating for a number of years, China has emerged as the largest investor in Myanmar’s commercial centre Yangon, accounting for 65 of 113 approved foreign invested projects in fiscal 2018-19. According to a July 26 report in The Irrawaddy, the surge in new Chinese investment has been concentrated in Yangon but is also growing fast in other parts of the country. At the same time, spurned by the West over its abysmal human rights record, Myanmar is increasingly turning to China to fill its foreign investment shortfall, while China are also aiding the country militarily. On the other hand, the US is taking a different approach, as they recently banned visits by Myanmar’s army chief and three other top officers due to their role in the “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya minority, urging accountability for their brutal campaign. The US is trying to use its influence to change the military command in its favour, which would make the return of the Rohingyas more likely, while more importantly making the US have a bigger role in the nation.

2. China’s influence through One Belt One road

China’s political influence in China, is clearly displayed through the role of the influence in Myanmar on the Arakan Army’s (AA) and it's endorsement of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Generally, China employs a government-to-government and party-to-party two-pronged relationship with Myanmar as it usually does with the other countries. But lately, with the ambitious BRI mega project, it seems to have added another channel which is military to military. Myanmar relies heavily on China for military equipment and food supplies, as well as two-way trade which involves exporting natural resources and mineral extraction, among others. the Myanmar government recently agreed to begin work on key projects under the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) agreement which is part of the BRI. An estimated $2 billion will be spent in the initial stages of the project. This is a major sign of China’s increased influence in the nation, and the BRI is set to be the perfect tool for it.

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3. India’s help in Bay of Bengal

4. UN calls for boycott on Myanmar

5. Malaysia speaking out

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