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Chinese Mobile Phone Services in North Myanmar

It is learnt that taking advantage of the inability of the Myanmar military junta to provide satisfactory and affordable mobile phone services in the Shan State and the Kachin State areas of North Myanmar, Chinese companies have been operating mobile phone services in Yunnan for the benefit of the people of North Myanmar. Compared to the poor services provided by the Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications Department, the services provided by the Yunnan-based Chinese companies are of high quality and available free of cost to the Kachins and Shans, who have to pay only for the mobile sets, which cost about one-third or even one-fourth of the price of the sets sold by the Myanmar Department. As a result, Chinese services and mobile sets have become immensely popular in North Myanmar. A number of public call offices, which have come up in North Myanmar, use Yunnan-based networks. Concerned over this development, the Myanmar military authorities have started seizing all Chinese mobile sets in the possession of the Kachins in order to prevent their using the services of the Yunnan-based companies.

2. There is so far no evidence of any Chinese plans for starting similar services in the bordering areas of Tibet for the benefit of the people of Arunachal Pradesh. However, one has to be alert to this possibility.

(The writer, Mr.B.Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

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