China Seeks Burmese Route Around the ‘Malacca Dilemma’

China Seeks Burmese Route Around the ‘Malacca Dilemma’

BANGKOK, Thailand -- China's warming relationship with the Southeast Asian military regime the West loves to hate is emerging as a vital element in solving one of Beijing's biggest problems -- energy security. The jungles of Burma now seem certain to provide a shortcut for oil from the Middle East and Africa to the Chinese border.

With China scouring the world for oil and gas supplies to replace its own rapidly decreasing reserves, strategists have pondered the potential security problem posed for Beijing by the Malacca Strait, wedged between Indonesia and Malaysia and through which between 70 and 80 percent of China's oil imports must pass.

Not only is the strait congested and prone to accidents and pirates, it could also easily be blocked in an international conflict. Beijing believes this is what the United States would do if the two countries confronted militarily over Taiwan.

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