Than Shwe Meets India’s Army Chief
October 13, 2009: Snr-Gen Than Shwe, the head of the Burmese junta, met with India’s visiting army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor in Napyidaw on Monday.
According to Burma’s state-run-newspapers, Than Shwe received Gen Deepak Kapoor and his delegation along with other top ranking junta generals including Vice Snr-Gen Maung Aye, Gen Shwe Mann, Gen Tin Aung Myint Oo.
Lt-Gen Ye Myint, the chief of Burmese military intelligence, called Military Affairs Security, was also in the welcoming delegation, reflecting the importance of counter insurgency and ethnic issues along the Indo-Burma border.
Before the meeting, Than Shwe, the Indian army chief met with Maung Aye on Monday morning, along with the head of Military Ordnance, Lt-Gen Tin Aye, which underscored the importance of India as a supplier of military hardware to the regime.
A few days earlier, Deepak Kapoor told India’s Time Now television that India’s army is capable of countering any Chinese military threat. India has accused China of incursions into its territory during the past two years.
Commenting on China, he said: “The Indian army is capable of looking after the defense of the country. So, it would take care of any aggression. Certain offensive actions are also part of the overall defense. We do not have any designs on anyone else's territory, but we would like to defend our territory.”
Following the Indian general’s visit, observers noted that the military regime also received US Sen. James Webb in August. Both actions are seen as countering Beijing’s influence in the region and an effort to reduce Burma’s dependency on China.
“Traditionally Burmese leaders, including former prime minister U Nu, have been concerned about China’s influence and threats as the two countries have had historical conflicts. So Snr-Gen Than Shwe needs more friends to balance Beijing’s rising influence in Burma,” said Aung Naing Oo, a Burmese political analyst based in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Two months ago, Than Shwe met the US senator who supports an end to US sanctions on the junta. He discussed China’s influence in Burma when he met Than Shwe and the Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi during his visit.
Webb later wrote in a The New York Times column that Western sanctions “have allowed China to dramatically increase its economic and political influence” in Burma, “furthering a dangerous strategic imbalance in the region.”
“If Chinese commercial influence in Myanmar continues to grow, a military presence could easily follow,” he said.
About a week after Webb’s visit, the Burmese junta captured territory of the Kokang ethnic cease-fire group on the Sino-Burma border on August 24. Beijing has repeatedly called for a peaceful resolution to ethnic group conflicts in Burma. The junta’s Kokang offensive drove as many as 37,000 Kokang Chinese refugees to seek safety in China