India and China have been engaged in a border dispute along the eastern (Arunachal) and western sectors

India has confronted Myanmar in recent months with intelligence showing that China is providing assistance in building a surveillance post on a remote island in the Bay of Bengal, Bloomberg reported citing Indian officials. The Indian government representatives have shared satellite imagery with Myanmar counterparts that showed Chinese workers helping to construct a listening post on the Coco Islands in the Indian Ocean. The workers were also seen extending an airstrip, the officials said as per the report.

In the meetings, the report said, representatives from Myanmar denied any Chinese involvement and dismissed India's concerns. However, India remains worried that the infrastructure will allow China to monitor communications from naval bases and track missiles from test sites on its eastern coastline, the officials said.

India and China have been engaged in a border dispute along the eastern (Arunachal) and western sectors (Ladakh). While the dispute has been going on for years, the fresh tension began in 2020 after Beijing amassed thousands of troops along LAC in Ladakh. Just days ago, China renamed 11 places in Arunachal Pradesh. Besides land, Beijing also wants to contain India in the sea.

Major General Zaw Min Tun, a spokesman for Myanmar's ruling State Administration Council, has rejected the claims that China was building a spy facility in the Coco Islands. He denied that the topic ever came up with Chinese or Indian officials, and said Myanmar would never allow access to foreign troops, the report said.

"Myanmar and India always have discussions at many levels, but there was no specific discussion on this issue. The Indian government already knows perfectly well that only Myanmar security forces are based there, and they are doing defense activities for their own country," the army general told Bloomberg.

This comes just a week after UK-based Chatham House came out with a paper titled: 'Is Myanmar building a spy base on Great Coco Island?' The authors of the report said new satellite imagery showed mysterious construction on an archipelago close to a strategic Indian navy outpost. The paper said Myanmar's Coco Islands in the Bay of Bengal have long been the subject of geopolitical intrigue and controversy among analysts. "The most common allegation is that since the early 1990s, Myanmar has allowed a Chinese signals intelligence facility on the archipelago."

Myanmar's reliance on China has increased following sanctions from Europe and the US after a military coup in 2021. With Myanmar's armed forces struggling to control large swaths of the country and with the economy in freefall, China seems to be shoring up the regime and protecting its investments for now, the paper said.

The Chinese companies, the paper said, were believed to be operating on the ground, building major infrastructure projects such as deep-water ports, while the junta was allocating the few troops it had left to protect them. "This has implications for India’s strategic interests in the region, as New Delhi seeks to counter China’s growing influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region. With the Coco Island developments, India may soon face a new airbase close by in a country increasingly tied to Beijing," the paper cautioned.

However, Bloomberg reported that India has assessed that China has no offensive military capabilities on Great Coco Island, and Chinese research vessels used for snooping in the Indian Ocean haven't docked there to avoid stoking suspicions. The Indian officials told the news agency that no Chinese personnel was stationed on the islands permanently, even though the workers showed up often to help set up equipment. India plans to continue pressing Myanmar's junta to block China from operating the spy post, the officials said.