01:03 GMT31 May 2020
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    India, the pivot of US' South Asia policy, has high stakes in Myanmar where it aims to establish a massive infrastructure that would help in penetrating the ASEAN market as well as counter Chinese influence in the Bay of Bengal.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — As the United States is considering slapping sanctions back on Myanmar, a year after it lifted its decade-long sanction targeted at deterring the country’s military from persecuting the Rohingya minority community, experts in India say that US’ sanctions on Myanmar could make it economically dependent on China, annulling India’s influence. Also, despite the harsh criticism on Aung Saan Suu Kyi’s inability to protect Rohingyas from military atrocities, Indian ruling elite continues to hold the civilian leader with great affection.

    READ MORE: India Not in Favor of Sanctions Against Myanmar Over Rohingya Issues

    “Ideal will be to strengthen hands of civilian leadership by exploring ways for providing much needed humanitarian aid on the ground. Such efforts can also facilitate early return of Rohingya refugees who are streaming into Bangladesh creating tensions,” Prof Swaran Singh of the School of International Studies in Jawaharlal Nehru University said.

    Speaking to Sputnik, Dr Udai Bhanu Singh, an expert in international relations and security said that US sanctions on Myanmar could be a major headache for India as it would push the country back into the economic crisis from which it has emerged after decades, making it more dependent on China.

    China has been the most important source of aid and assistance for Myanmar. Experts say that Beijing is not likely to toe Washington, especially after President Xi Jinping recently established his uncontested power in recent 19th Party Congress.

    “It (sanctions) would likely adversely affect the economy of the country, and make it more prone to greater dependence on China which would once again seize the opportunity for India’s bigger role in Myanmar. The unintended consequence will be that Myanmar will be back to square one. The sanctions policy will not achieve the objectives it sets out to achieve,” Dr Udai Bhanu Singh, coordinator of the South East Asia and Oceania Centre of the Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses told Sputnik.

    READ MORE: Indian Civil Society Compassionate Toward Rohingyas Despite Government's Plans

    He is of the opinion that the issue of national reconciliation is the biggest problem before the country with implications for India and the region. However, if past experience is any guide, the policy of sanctions and boycott will only force the country back into a shell, simply because of the spillover effects such a move would have vis a vis Myanmar’s economic ties with other countries.

    Myanmar's importance to India has increased markedly following the launch of India's new “Act East” policy in 2014. Myanmar is very critical to India from the security as well as economic point of view. As China's clout increases in Myanmar and Bay of Bengal, New Delhi intends to counter the influence by increasing its presence in the country. The confluence of all these factors has prompted New Delhi to build up maritime and other infrastructure in Myanmar, including the Kaladan multimodal project, a road-river-port cargo transport project, and India-Myanmar-Thailand Asian Trilateral Highway. India is also mulling setting up an SEZ at Sittwe, located closer to the Chinese port and SEZ at Kyaukphyu. New Delhi's goal is not only to increase its presence in Rakhine, it also intends to access the rest of ASEAN markets through Myanmar.


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