The Arakan Army, an insurgent group whose activities have severely affected the India-backed Kaladan multi-modal transport project in Myanmar, has benefited from the clandestine transfer and smuggling of Chinese-made weaponry, people familiar with developments said on Monday.
The group, designated a terrorist organisation by Naypyitaw, clashed with Myanmarese troops on nearly 600 occasions last year, and a majority of the skirmishes occurred in close proximity to the $480-million Kaladan project.
There have also been at least four instances of Arakan Army cadres targeting the shipment of materials for the infrastructure project or attacking Myanmar troops providing security to the project, the people said on condition of anonymity. In 2019, just as a key phase of the Kaladan project was nearing completion in Rakhine and Chin states, the Arakan Army shifted its area of operations to these regions, they added.
“The Arakan Army has always kept its anti-Kaladan activities below a certain threshold to not raise the ante. But its activities have had the overall impact of severely impeding the execution of the project,” one of the people cited above said.