The importance of Xinjiang and Myanmar’s Arakan for the Chinese Silk Road

The Chinese Silk Road and its main strategic traffic and influence areas in the Chinese regions of Xinjiang and Arakan in Myanmar, which have a concentration of Muslim minorities in the two countries, serve as a table for a new strategic conflict between the United States of America and China, in which Washington threatens to obstruct the Chinese Silk Road project, which links China with the whole world through a network  From ports, railways and highways.

 We note here the indirect reason for the American focus on launching an attack on China regarding the Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang and the State of Myanmar regarding the Muslim Rohingya minority in the Arkan region and its relationship to the Sino-American conflict in the South China Sea, which is (the Chinese Silk Road or large parts of it pass mainly through the eastern part Turkestan, which is located in the northwestern China at Xinjiang, inhabited by Uyghur Muslims, on the border towards the Gwadar port in southwestern Pakistan, and another road from it passes through two Chinese ports that are being built in the Arkan region of Myanmar, which is the home of the Muslim Rohingya minority in Burma  or Myanmar).

 We note here, that both of the strategic ports or roads of China in the (Xinjiang region and the Arkan region in the State of Myanmar can avoid China’s passage through the “Malacca Strait”, which is located between Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore), and the American fleets impose their influence on it, especially since 90% of the oil trade is for border countries.  The South China Sea, including China, passes through this Strait of Malacca, close to the South China Sea.

  Here, China considers that each of the (East Turkestan in Xinjiang and the Arakan region in the State of Myanmar) represent a strategic option for it to be liberated from the “American encirclement strategy” in its confrontation, which is the strategy adopted by the United States of America to contain the Chinese threat, whether from the (Eastern Front, through Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan or from the southern front in the South China Sea through the formation of the “Aukus Defense” alliance, which includes Australia, Britain and the United States, with the possibility of including India).

  Because of this, China accused the United States of invoking the atmosphere of the Cold War, by warning its representative to the United Nations “Mr.ambassador, Zhang Jun”, on February 28, 2022, of the need to abandon the Cold War mentality based on the confrontation of the axes to each other, given that there is no gain from the start of a new cold war, but everyone will lose in those confrontations.

   On the other hand, the Taiwan Strait is a point of crisis in Sino-American relations, especially after the outbreak of the Russian war against Ukraine, and here the (situation in Taiwan is one of the most prominent manifestations of tensions between China and the United States of America in light of Chinese moves near Taiwan), which deliberately demonstrate the extent of Chinese strength towards Taiwan and its allies, through hundreds of sorties by Chinese planes in the recent period, in the “center of the Taiwan Air Defense Zone”.

 The United States of America also angered China by sending unofficial delegations of American representatives to Taiwan, to affirm their support for the Taiwan government and the country’s President “Tsai Ing-wen”.

  China considers Taiwan an inalienable part of its territory and has vowed to return it to its sovereignty one day by force if necessary, so Beijing is suspicious of any reference to Taiwan’s independence.

 Chinese policies will, as expected, go on to oppose any attempts by Taiwan to gain diplomatic recognition, as well as thwart Taiwan’s attempts to join international organizations.

 With the continuing tension in the Taiwan Strait, the possibility of China launching a military invasion is seen as the most dangerous shift in tension between China and the United States of America, especially as it may herald military confrontations between the two countries.

  Until this moment, and through my careful reading of the scene, here it seems that the ruling Communist Party in China is willing to calm down and stabilize despite the escalating tone that was described as a mere venting of this Chinese anger over the American intervention in Taiwan, especially after the start of its preparations for its annual conference.

 Here we see that the risk of China launching an attack on Taiwan before the (20th CPC Congress in 2022) is very low.

  On the other hand, the impact of the conflict in the South China Sea on Sino-American relations appears. It is expected that the United States and its allies will (continue to carry out joint naval maneuvers under the pretext of ensuring freedom of navigation in international waters assured by Beijing).

  On the other hand, it is certain that China will continue to strengthen and develop its naval fleet to defend its interests, knowing that all parties do not want a sea conflict.

  Perhaps we will find, after the Ukraine war, an increase in the intensity of the US-Chinese rivalry, an intensification of the presence of the US fleets in the South China Sea, and more provocative naval maneuvers by the United States, Taiwan and its allies in the “Indo-Pacific” region as a warning signal from Washington to China and its Russian ally after the Ukraine war, refers to (the determination of not accepting the Chinese expansion in the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea, in addition to the possibility of imposing new US sanctions on China, and the mutual closure of consulates in the event of the escalation of conflict in that region after the Ukraine war), especially  With the desire of the United States of America to show its global superiority and achieve any victory or progress, perhaps falsely against China.

Dr.Nadia Helmy
Dr.Nadia Helmy
Associate Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Politics and Economics / Beni Suef University- Egypt. An Expert in Chinese Politics, Sino-Israeli relationships, and Asian affairs- Visiting Senior Researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)/ Lund University, Sweden- Director of the South and East Asia Studies Unit