By Conflict X Team

The strategic importance of maritime chokepoints cannot be overstated in the realm of global trade and geopolitics. Among these, the Malacca and Sunda Straits stand out as crucial junctures that connect the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Serving as natural bottlenecks, they exert significant control over the flow of goods and energy resources. 

These straits are narrow passages connecting major bodies of water, serving as crucial maritime trade routes between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Their significance lies in their control over the flow of goods, energy resources, and naval vessels. Any disruption in these chokepoints can have severe implications for global trade, impacting economies worldwide.

China’s Dependency on Free Trade Flow: China’s economy relies heavily on international trade, with a significant portion of its goods passing through the Malacca and Sunda Straits. A blockade by any naval power could disrupt China’s supply chains, leading to economic setbacks and potential escalations in geopolitical tensions. China thus seeks alternative routes to safeguard its trade interests and reduce its vulnerability to such disruptions.

To circumvent these chokepoints, China has been eyeing alternative routes, with a particular focus on Southeast Asia. Thailand, with its strategic location and land border with Malaysia, presents a viable option. However, recent developments suggest a more intricate strategy at play.

China’s establishment of a hidden base in Ream, Cambodia, raises concerns about its intentions in the region.

Thailand’s Strategic Importance: Thailand it seems occupies a crucial position in China’s strategic calculations due to its shared border with Malaysia via a narrow strip of land, offering a potential land route to bypass the maritime chokepoints. China’s interest in Thailand extends beyond mere economic considerations, as gaining influence over the country could provide it with a strategic foothold in Southeast Asia.

China’s Base in Ream, Cambodia, and the Myanmar Situation: The establishment of a Chinese base in Ream, Cambodia, raises alarms about China’s expanding military presence in the region. This move coincides with the unrest in Myanmar, where the MNDAA (Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army) plays a significant role. The MNDAA is part of the 3 Brotherhood Alliance, which includes ethnic armed groups along Myanmar’s border with China. Among these groups, the MNDAA stands out for its organizational capacity and military strength, controlling territories along the China-Myanmar border.

MNDAA’s Alignment with Chinese Interests: The MNDAA’s ideological affinity with communism and its leader’s admiration for President Xi Jinping suggest a favorable disposition towards China. Unlike some of its allies in the 3 Brotherhood Alliance, the MNDAA is well-organized and equipped, making it a valuable partner for China’s strategic objectives in the region. Chinese support for the MNDAA, whether overt or covert, could further strengthen the group’s position in Myanmar and advance China’s interests in securing alternative trade routes and expanding its influence in Southeast Asia region.

Is China trying to encircle Thailand via friendly administrations and bases in Cambodia ,Myanmar and Laos ? 

It’s a valid question given current circumstances in Thailand’s neighborhood 

Given Thailand’s Strategic location,China would definitely want it under its own influence but the problem is Thailand traditionally have been more aligned with the West in general in history and US in particular. Will China adopt a trade strategy to tilt the balance in its favour or a hostile anti royal military-communist style coup via its allies and proxies in Myanmar and Cambodia ,only time can tell.

But one thing is sure, if indeed this is what China is planning and if it succeeds them the often repeated “Chinese dillema” regarding Sunda and Malacca Straits will become a thing of the past 

This will also have far reaching effects for Taiwan in particular as then China can threaten the trade flow of Taiwan itself from its bases in Thailand and will position itself in such a way to hinder US Navy Deployments from the Atlantic fleet via Indian Ocean to help Taiwan in case of an invasion.