AbstractSince the advent of a new, more outward-looking military government in 1988, Burma has come to occupy a position of considerable importance in the Asia-Pacific strategic environment. Burma's burgeoning relationship with China has attracted particular attention, not least because of the stream of reports in the news media and, to a lesser extent academic literature, claiming that China has established several naval bases and intelligence collection stations in Burma. This apparent intrusion by China into the northeast Indian Ocean has strongly influenced the strategic perceptions and policies of Burma's regional neighbours, notably India. The reported facilities have also been cited as evidence that Burma has become a client state of China, and as proof of Beijing's expansionist designs in South and Southeast Asia. A close examination of the available evidence, however, suggests that there are no Chinese military bases on Burmese soil, a fact conceded by senior Indian officials in 2005. China still has a strong strategic interest in developing its bilateral relations with Burma but, based on this analysis, it would appear that China's presence in Burma, and its current influence over Burma's military regime, have been greatly exaggerated.
Griffith Business School, Department of International Business and Asian Studies