As days pass by it is being clearer that the coup was sponsored (or at least being supported) by China. This is quite clear from the following incidents:

  1. The Myanmar military leaders had met the Chinese foreign minister some time before the coup.
  2. The Chinese media is describing the coup as “mere cabinet reshuffle
  3. When the issue was discussed in UN security council China and Russia vetoed the proposals for any sanctions.

Military rule in Myanmar is of course not in interest of India or of the whole world. We are seeing dictatorships being established in several south east Asian countries like Thailand (which has a semi dictatorship), Vietnam (a communist country), Laos (a communist country). Pakistan had been under military rule for a long time. Dictatorships typically don’t like democracies like India/US/Japan and lean towards China. Also the hunta being pro-china, it may think of stopping the Indian projects going on in Myanmar. This is of course a problematic situation for India.

Here we see that Western, Japanese and Indian interests are converging. US and EU are pushing for economic sanctions. But, I think, that will be counter productive. Why? Because, the sanctions wont hit the financial muscle of the military Hunta which earns its money from mines and beer etc. The sanctions would hunt the normal citizens the most. Plus it will have the side effect: Myanmar will become more and more dependent on China as China will step up to support the Myanmar people with goods and services hit due to sanctions. We also saw, after the West sanctions on Russia, it has literally become a brother of China. India has done the right thing by explaining the west not to go for sanctions, but adopt a more pragmatic approach.

What should India, US and EU do?

  1. Encourage protests against Military Hunta.
  2. Create a bad narrative against the Hunta in the world forum.
  3. Cooperate with US, EU, Japan, Australia and ensure that they don’t take drastic steps like imposing sanctions (as they did in case of Russia).
  4. India takes a passive step: not go openly against the Hunta and complete the pending projects – these projects are extremely strategic.
  5. The coup will make the hunta un-popular. After democracy is back in Myanmar, their political power (for e.g. military appoints 25% of members in their national legislature) should be curbed by doing appropriate amendments in their constitution.
  6. The financial might of the hunta should also be curbed by opening the monopolies of the military to other private local and foreign investors. Once the financial might of the hunta is broken, it will never come to power again.

Myanmar is extremely important for India to be lost to Chinese sphere of influence. Myanmar is not in good financial health, and if it goes in to Chinese debt trap, then China will enter Bay of Bengal through Myanmar and that would be a big security threat for India.

India cannot afford to have another Nepal.

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