Can China Still Export Its People’s War?

Dusting off Mao’s Cold War playbook won’t help Beijing.

Earlier this summer, as the Indian government scrambled to curry support both at home and abroad for its bare-knuckle standoff against China in the Himalayas, it began reviving another unrelated longstanding grievance with Beijing: China’s alleged covert support for Maoist rebels in restive parts of northeastern India. Among other recent incidents, according to New Delhi, China deserved blame for a deadly attack on security forces in June by far-left separatist groups in Manipur state, which borders Myanmar. In July, ahead of the Myanmar government’s latest long-odds attempt to broker peace with the alphabet soup of ethnic separatist groups ringing the country, the powerful chief of the Myanmar military called out China for arming some of the most powerful rebel groups. Two weeks ago, Indian media, citing sources in both the Indian and Myanmar governments, reported that China has been smuggling arms to various insurgent groups in the region through a network of militants along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border. Among other goals, according to the sources, Beijing was seeking to derail Indian-backed infrastructure projects in Myanmar that ostensibly would compete with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. These sorts of developments – combined with warnings from the U.S. and some of its friends […]

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Phillip Orchard
Phillip Orchard is an analyst at Geopolitical Futures. Prior to joining the company, Mr. Orchard spent nearly six years at Stratfor, working as an editor and writing about East Asian geopolitics. He’s spent more than six years abroad, primarily in Southeast Asia and Latin America, where he’s had formative, immersive experiences with the problems arising from mass political upheaval, civil conflict and human migration. Mr. Orchard holds a master’s degree in Security, Law and Diplomacy from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, where he focused on energy and national security, Chinese foreign policy, intelligence analysis, and institutional pathologies. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas. He speaks Spanish and some Thai and Lao.