With no direct access to the Indian Ocean and vital shipping lanes passing through disputed and potentially blockaded waters, it is strategically natural for China to seek an outlet through a friendly neighboring country that opens on to the strategic waterway.
From China’s perspective, only two countries would fit that description: Pakistan and Myanmar. Although the Chinese completed a highway connection through its westernmost areas with Pakistan in 1979, it is too far from China’s industrial centers and the mountainous terrain on the border too rugged for it to be of much use for large-scale trade.
Myanmar was thus the obvious choice. China’s interest in securing such a corridor through that much easier route down to the Indian Ocean predates the One Belt One Road (Obor) initiatives by more than three decades. But China’s strategic planners seem to have overlooked Myanmar’s age-old apprehensions of its powerful northern neighbor.
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