'China wants to maintain instability in India's North East'
New Delhi: China's role in northeastern India is not to create instability but "to maintain instability" because it wants to keep India out of Myanmar, says veteran journalist-writer Bertil Lintner.
His new book, "Great Game East: India, China and the Struggle for Asia's Most Volatile Frontier (Harper Collins India)", released last week, looks at the geopolitics of eastern Asia.
Lintner says at the core of China's covert interference in the region is the Indian Ocean, which the country wants to penetrate for strategic gains without India's interference, Lintner said.
This "is the great game in the east", says the author, who has been writing for the Far Eastern Economic Review for the last 20 years.
"In the old colonial days, the great game east was between Russia, Afghanistan and the British colonialists in India. The Russians, the main player in the game, were trying to reach the Indian Ocean; as was China. Both of them tried to keep the British out of the way (in the period before the World War II)," Lintner told a news agency in an interview.
Post-Independence, the action has moved to China, Myanmar and India. China is still looking to increase its net of operations in the Indian Ocean, Lintner said.
The intricate net of intrigues has kept the game going, the writer says.
"In 1950, China invaded Tibet after which the Americans began to support the cause of an independent Tibet. In 1959, the Dalai Lama fled to India and China was angry. In a few years, China attacked India resulting in the border war of 1962 and by the mid-1960s, China decided to support the rebel movement in the northeast. Pakistan was also interested...Difficult games are being played in the region," Lintner said.
Myanmar with its ethnic groups along the border was in the cross-hairs, Lintner said.
"It is difficult for Myanmar. Even if Myanmar wants to lessen its dependence on China; they can't do it. China will always be there...As for Myanmar's ethnic conflicts, they will always be there. These conflicts have existed for hundreds of years - starting with Myanmar's ancient warrior kings waging their wars against the non-Myanmarese nationalities and continuing to this day - and are not likely to go away any time soon," he said.
Lintner, who is recognised as an expert on Myanmarese issues as well as on South Asia was one of the first outsiders with Burmese Shan wife to reach the isolated Myanmar's northern-held rebel area and China from India's northeast after a 2,275-km overland trek in 1985.