Let’s roll out the map and pay heed to 4 points: Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. They are key to the “Road” in the One Belt One Road initiative. I have mentioned a lot of times that with the Island Chain devised for stemming Japan, the Soviet Union, China and North Korea from expanding eastwardly in the old days, if China wants to break out of the encirclement, it has to go westwardly or southwardly. One Belt is on the west side of China; One Road is on the south side of China.
80% of the petroleum transported to China from the Middle East is shipped through the Strait of Malacca, which means the waterway is enclosed by US’s Island Chain. Having grasped this point, one is able to understand what the 4 points mentioned above are meant for. A crude carrier is piloted out of the Strait of Hormuz from Iran, with Gwadar Port in Pakistan on its side. From there, the crude oil can be delivered to Xinjiang by land route. If it keeps going ahead by sea, Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka will provide the carrier with supplies before it is on its way to Myanmar. Coincidentally, Sri Lanka has ceded Hambantota Port to China for 99 years to write off a debt. After arriving at Kyaukpyu Port in Myanmar, the crude oil will be channeled through Sino-Myanmar petroleum pipeline to Guizhou.
So, Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar are extraordinarily important to China. If the strategic layout gets in shape, the amount of crude oil transported through the Strait of Malacca will be significantly reduced. Foreign media reported that the Chinese Communist Party has adopted a stance on the coup in Myanmar. With China exercising its veto, a condemnation of Myanmar’s coup was rejected in the United Nations Security Council. The official statement is of course something about not interfering in internal affairs of other countries, but what does it imply if one turns a blind eye to such an important incident? Sandwiched between China and the US, Aung San Suu Kyi made an attempt not to offend either of them. However, the situation has suggested that there is no room for double-dipping at all.
In another region, while Israel has warned America against getting back to the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, Iran has recently urged the US to swiftly return back to the agreement. So, the crux of the Myanmar issue lies in the Biden administration. Although he has uttered a few words, inaction is the same as tacitly consenting. If the US sternly condemns Myanmar’s military, takes no action against it, returns to the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, and lifts the sanctions off Iran, it has no difference from removing its strategy.
Myanmar’s military proclaimed that everything had been done for investigating the alleged rigging. If those condemning Myanmar’s military are to let the armed forces step in for rigging in the future, it will amount to giving rivals grounds for making a rebuttal. However, acquiescing in what Myanmar’s military did is equivalent to taking up the same stance as the CCP does. That said, all the aforementioned are not the key. What is crucial is what we can see from the way the Biden administration handles the Myanmar issue.
Myanmar is only one of the breaches the CCP has been looking for in order to break away from the encirclement by the West. Irrespective of how the US is going to cope with it, as long as it authentically deals with it, Myanmar will be the first Sino-US wrestling ring during the Biden administration. If the US is not to tackle it or is to pretend to get to work at it, Myanmar will be the first touchstone of Sino-US relations during the Biden administration. Once the Biden administration is deemed a sloppy government by the CCP, the breakthrough strategy to be adopted by the latter will be way swifter and more ferocious for there are only 4 years left. The small countries on the periphery of such an Island Chain will get embroiled anytime in the 4 years ahead in this round of breakthrough, and Taiwan will be the pivot, an island referred to by US general Douglas MacArthur as an unsinkable aircraft carrier.
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