chapter  6
23 Pages

Myanmar’s maritime challenges and priorities


This chapter examines the Myanmar government’s perspective on the country’s maritime challenges and priorities. It argues that the Myanmar government’s maritime strategy largely remains traditional in outlook, that it pays little attention to other forms of maritime challenges, and that its most obvious priority is the defense of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state. Myanmar is situated in Southeast Asia and is bordered on the north and northeast by China, on the east and southeast by Laos and Thailand, on the south by the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, and on the west by Bangladesh and India. It is located between latitudes 09° 32′ N and 28° 31′ N and longitudes 92° 10′ E and 101° 11′ E. The total length of contiguous frontiers is 6,159 kilometers (3,828 miles) and the coastline from the mouth of Naaf River to Kawthaung is 2,228 kilometers (1,385 miles). The coastline can be subdivided into three sections: the Rakhine coastline of 713 kilometers (443 miles), the Ayeyarwaddy Delta coastline of 437 kilometers (272 miles), and the Tanintharyi coastline of 1,078 kilometers (670 miles). Myanmar has 29,043 square nautical miles of internal waters and 9,895 square nautical miles of territorial waters (Table 6.1). There are 852 big and small islands in Myanmar waters. Although the Myanmar government publicizes its multi-dimensional approach to security from time to time,1 little is known or reported about its perceptions of maritime security or maritime strategy. This does not mean that Myanmar does not have any problems concerning maritime security. In reality, there are many

issues that the Myanmar government needs to address in the context of maritime security, and some are serious. In terms of challenges and priorities, in the view of the present military regime the issue of maritime boundary disputes appears be at the top of the list.