Myanmar and Chinese Energy Security

Nov 9, 2010 | 19:34 GMT

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Myanmar sits in a strategic corridor between China and the Indian Ocean, an area that has become increasingly vital as China tries to diversify its supply routes, especially for energy coming from the Middle East, and become less dependent on the Strait of Malacca, which is dominated by the U.S. and its allies and where ships are vulnerable to piracy. Starting in June, the state-owned China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) began building oil and gas pipelines from Myanmar's deep-water port of Kyaukphyu to China's southwest gateway of Kunming. Strategically, Beijing is placing more emphasis on the Indian Ocean to improve its access to these trade lines, to counterbalance India and to break through the encirclement it perceives to be shaped by the United States and its allies in the Asia-Pacific region. China is watching the aftermath of recent elections in Myanmar to make sure its energy interests remain secure in the event of policy changes by the military-backed government, especially in relation to other international players with an interest in the country.