TODAY -

Kyaukphyu and Gwadar to provide sea access to China’s hinterlands

Puyam Rakesh *



By signing a 43 years lease agreement with the Gwadar Port Authority for developing a special economic zone (SEZ), China has strengthened its footprint in Pakistan. The SEZ that would be developed in an area of 2,300 acre could shape a new political and economic climate. The Gwadar port in Balochistan Province, however, falls under the shadow of instability. However, the two countries reached understanding on security cooperation to ensure stability along the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor. Undeniably, the completion of the port and the joint declaration issued on 20 April 2015 on the economic corridor indicated their commitment to greater economic integration.

Above all, under the “One Belt and One Road” (OBOR) Initiative, China will also enhance its presence along the Red Sea. The Chinese dragon lays eggs on the shores of the Red Sea. Why is this region a centre of attraction? Energy resources and maritime security are the vital interests. In this age of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, China would like to strengthen its presence in the region where Africa and Europe meet Asia. From Egypt to the Gulf of Aden, China has expanded its economic and strategic interests.

The ‘Chinese dream’ is depended on maintaining stability and freedom of navigation. Beijing knows well that the Strait of Malacca and the Suez Canal are vital communication lines. In addition to energy security, construction of road, sea port and railway in the Persian Gulf region form a core part of the Chinese strategy to secure maritime interests and enhance access to natural resources. Besides, China has a strong interest in the political stability and energy market of Middle East. In fact, China has strengthened its presence in strife-torn Yemen located in the strategic region opposite the Horn of Africa.

A network of sea ports in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Oman, Yemen, Kenya, Tanzania, Djibouti, Saudi Arabia, Eritrea, Sudan and Egypt will drive the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. As part of the strategy, the hinterlands will be connected to sea ports in the neighbouring countries. Moreover, China is looking for more investment in mining, port construction, railway and ship-building under the OBOR Initiative.

For China, Pakistan is a key player in the whole game plan. Afghanistan is landlocked. A narrow strip of land in Afghanistan called Wakhan Corridor touches Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in China but it is not opened for security reasons. With China’s increasing economic presence, infrastructure developments in XUAR along this corridor and the need for safeguarding its interests in the Afghan-Pakistan region will guide how Beijing handles the situation in the autonomous region.

Protecting China from terrorist groups active in these Islamic countries and their joining hands with the home grown separatists in XUAR continue to shape China’s policy. Therefore, a closer relationship with Pakistan is a necessity for security and strategic reasons. This is further corroborated when President Xi Jinping expressed the “unique role” of Pakistan on Afghanistan during his Pakistan visit in April 2015. China called for joint efforts with Pakistan to push the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. The joint declaration also pledged to make “concerted efforts” to crack down on the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

Under the policy of opening-up, XUAR, Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and Yunnan Province of China are aiming at opening their borders to the neighbouring countries. As a result, China approached Pakistan, India and Myanmar for various connectivity projects. Although Beijing stepped up opening of TAR through Nepal and India, the projects to get access to the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal through Pakistan and Myanmar respectively, are moving at fast pace.

The Pakistan-China Economic Corridor connecting Gwadar Port to Kashgar in Xinjiang is in progress. Again, the negotiation for the Ruili-Kyaukphyu corridor for connecting landlocked Yunnan Province to the Kyaukphyu Port on the western coast of Myanmar is moving in the right direction lately. Together with the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, the Gwadar and Kyaukphyu ports form a triangular maritime route that encloses India. These projects within the framework of the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative would change the economic landscapes of the landlocked Chinese provinces/autonomous regions. It will also be accomplishment of the ‘Two-Ocean’ strategy of China.

Like Pakistan, Myanmar is another key player that China cannot disparage. China-advocated Silk Belt and Maritime Silk Road initiative is read as an opportunity to enhance regional infrastructure and development. But Myanmar is concerned about the people’s vocal resistance against many projects. Following the 2010 general elections, a new political system took birth in Myanmar that allows the people room to oppose development projects on the ground of social and environmental impacts. It has, no doubt, taught Beijing a hard lesson to give priority on people-to-people exchanges for cementing relationship and strengthen the partnership. It is a major change after decades of military rule in Myanmar that affects the investment environment. However, with good instructions from Beijing, the Chinese companies are moving on.

In April 2015, the heads of the two States met on the sidelines of the Asian-African summit in Jakarta, Indonesia. In addition to stability in northern Myanmar, the two sides talked about creating “new bright spots” in the bilateral relationship. They discussed issues relating to China-Myanmar strategic partnership, the OBOR Initiative and the BCIM Economic Corridor. Besides connectivity, agriculture, electricity and finance were also deliberated. Expressing support to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the OBOR Initiative, Myanmar President Thein Sein invited Chinese companies to take part in Myanmar’s infrastructure construction under the Silk Road Fund.

Following this, the then Chairman of the Union Solidarity and Development Party Shwe Mann also appreciated the OBOR Initiative during his visit to China. Following such positive remarks, in May, Chinese State Councillor and Secretary General of State Council Yang Jing visited Myanmar to engage Naypyitaw on the AIIB, investment in the energy sector, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and development of the Kyaukphyu special economic zone (SEZ). The Myanmar side advocated industrial cooperation while expressing support to the infrastructure bank and the OBOR initiative. Consequently, Myanmar signed the Articles of Agreement to establish the AIIB on 29 June in Beijing.

Again, in August 2015, Vice President Sai Mauk Kham met with Chinese Ambassador Hong Liang. During the meeting, the two sides discussed flood relief, rural development, agriculture, border areas stability and the Ruili-Kyaukphyu economic corridor. Furthermore, during Thein Sein’s meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on the sidelines of the 70th Anniversary of the Victory of the World Anti-Fascist War, the two sides discussed prospects for enhancing China-ASEAN ties, promotion of youth exchange programmes and development of the Kyaukphyu SEZ. On the return journey via Kunming, Thein met with the CPC’s General Secretary of Yunnan Province Li Zhihan in Kunming. The Yunnan authorities advocated promotion of trade, implementation of Ruili(Shweli)-Muse Economic Zone, cooperation on narcotic drug, human trafficking and illegal logging.

In fact, China has been holding painstaking negotiation with Myanmar to push ahead the plan for constructing an economic corridor connecting Yunnan to Kyaukphyu port in Rakhine State (formerly Arakan). Interestingly, on 4th September, Myanmar Vice President Nyan Tun interacted with the members of the Central Work Committee for Myanmar SEZs. He expressed the need for ‘one stop service centres’ to attract foreign investors. Some revelations were made about the Kyaukphyu SEZ. It is most likely that the pace of economic reform will catch up after the November 2015 general elections. For China, the moment calls for attention to environmental and social impact assessment and people-to-people exchanges to neutralise any anti-Chinese feeling in Myanmar. Undoubtedly, maintaining a healthy relationship with Beijing seems to be a foreign policy priority for Naypyitaw.

If successfully implemented, these economic corridors and SEZs will boost China’s reform and opening up policy. The Yunnan provincial authorities have been demanding to develop railway and road links to Myanmar’s western coast. The oil and natural gas dual pipeline projects have strengthened Chinese presence along the Rakhine coast. Ruili, a border town in Yunnan province bordering Myanmar’s Muse town, will see larger volumes of trade with the opening of the Ruili-Muse economic zone. This border economic zone will find greater vitality when the Kyaukphyu SEZ comes into operation.

However, it has not been a smooth sail. In April 2011, China and Myanmar signed a memorandum of understanding on a joint rail transport project connecting Muse and Kyaukphyu. It was a part of the plan to establish Kunming-Kyaukphyu railway and road connectivity. This project is not moving since then though then Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar denied scrapping of the project in July 2014. There was report of cancellation of the railway project. Not long after this, during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Myanmar in November 2014, interconnectivity, the ‘OBOR’ Initiative and the Kyaukphyu SEZ were on the agenda.

Interestingly, in August 2015, the two sides talked about the Ruili-Kyaukphyu economic corridor. So China persuades Myanmar to establish the SEZ and the economic corridor for Yunnan Province to become a hub of regional trade and financial services. In this regard, the Ministry of Information and Yunnan Radio and Television has approached concerned authorities in Myanmar to produce a television documentary about the China-Myanmar Silk Road.

Though Pakistan and Myanmar are gearing up to provide sea access to China’s hinterlands, India has shown a little or no enthusiasm to make similar arrangement for China. There is no talk about an economic corridor to connect Lhasa and Kolkata port. A road connecting Gyangze (also written Gyantse) to Kolkata Port will closely integrate the TAR into India and South Asia. Unfortunately, the crossing through the Nathu La pass is the best agreed so far. Nevertheless, the Xigaze prefecture (Shigatse) will long to touch the water of Bay of Bengal. To set the record straight, without resolving the territorial dispute and the Dalai Lama issue, only geo-economics will find it hard to build bridges across the Himalayas.

China has found Pakistan and Myanmar to open its landlocked XUAR and Yunnan Province to get access to the Indian Ocean. However, TAR is not as lucky as the XUAR and Yunnan Province. By constructing these economic corridors and investing in the SEZs, China could take active role in the shaping the geo-politics and geo-economics of the Afeurosian (Africa-Europe and Asia) realm. Therefore, the Gwadar SEZ and the Kyaukphyu SEZ would undeniably be the bright spots in China’s neighbourhood diplomacy.


* Puyam Rakesh wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at khuman_mei(aT)yahoo(doT)com
This article was posted on September 18, 2015.


* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Zeliangrong orphaned by Nationalism #2
  • General Thangal Eco Park : Gallery
  • Letter to President on Crisis at MU
  • Precision medicine & life sciences
  • Black topping-can ground leveling be behind
  • Condemns security force intrusion in MU
  • Developer wanted at LMP, Konjeng Leikai
  • AR gears up for International Yoga Day
  • NPF rejoinder to NDPP : 20 June
  • Rejoinder by Dr. Shurhozelie : 20 June
  • For a little bit more
  • Deadline of 5 days time set : MU crisis
  • Garlic Festival @Ukhrul #4 :: Gallery
  • Flood in Imphal [14 June] #3 : Gallery
  • Inungshi, Gaichanglungliu :: eMing
  • Taking 'Hau' Music to Rest of World
  • Kakching bags cleanest city in NE Award
  • JRF (Junior Research Fellow) at IBSD
  • Oxfam India launches emergency response
  • VC, MU - Resign immediately :: MUTA
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Translation of ancient Manipur texts begin
  • Pre Yoga Capsule organized
  • NDPP Rejoinder on 19 June
  • NPF Youth Wing Rejoinder on 19 June
  • Favouring digital govt : still a Virtual dream
  • June 18 Anniv : Consult all stakeholders
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #1 : Gallery
  • Binota Thokchom at BRICS Young Scientist
  • The Merger of Manipur
  • Improving school management in Manipur
  • Pros & cons of screening tests
  • NPF Rejoinder on 18th June
  • Nagaland CM statement on Aboi ambush
  • June 18 significance: Still living on prayer
  • Need to identify one's strength
  • 18 Immortal Souls Remembered : Flash
  • The Great June Uprising : Read all about it
  • The Pitfalls of Identity Politics
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • All his sons :: Poem
  • Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016
  • Eid bring cheer in flood hit areas
  • Willong Khullen, Maram #1 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Defending the environmental defenders
  • Delusion in self - cause of worry
  • Road to Russia: FIFA World Cup
  • It must be love :: Poem
  • 'Future of Naga people is bleak'
  • Give a miss call to Amnesty
  • 'Naga area' bandh on June 18
  • Dzuko valley #4 :: 360 Panorama View
  • Flood in Imphal [14 June] #2 : Gallery
  • Id-Ul-Fitr Festival
  • Letter to PM Modi on Naga Talks
  • Greetings on Eid-Ul-Fitr
  • Rejoinder to NPF statement
  • Rejoinder to Nagaland Chief Minister
  • Flood relief continue on 3rd day
  • India-Vietnam Youth Dialogue 2018
  • MU debacle: Why would it be left unnoticed
  • Spirit of World Cup : Brazil to Russia
  • NEC to come under Home Ministry
  • Manipur NGO hosts summit on LGBTQ
  • Flood in Imphal [14 June] #1 : Gallery
  • Women Struggle in Self-Determination
  • 14 June- World Blood Donor Day
  • Naga Integration not possible- NPF react
  • Naga Integration is not possible- CM Rio
  • Relief work in flood affected areas
  • A day which keeps our spirit alive
  • Ranked 320 in the country : MU
  • Flood in Imphal [13 June] #2 : Gallery
  • Sovereignty Struggles in Northeast #5
  • Be alert: It's admission time
  • Yin and Yang
  • Watermelon beauty benefits
  • Temp accommodation for Aligarh students
  • Wrath of Mother Nature: Why challenge..
  • 60 pc is no longer first class : 95 pc
  • Flood in Imphal [13 June] #1 : Gallery
  • Sanamahi Laihui & Sanamahi Laining
  • Kuhi- Essential plant for Nungbi pottery
  • Climate justice is integral to development
  • The bridge :: Poem
  • Lt S Vijaya Devi felicitated
  • Then : Indifferent :: Now : Hyper sensitive
  • Phumdigi Tantha : Dance Drama : Gallery
  • Grief at Xavier Rutsa's demise
  • Modi's India: A descend into Ochlocracy
  • The Philippine Experience
  • Cry of a Dying River #33 :: Poem
  • Community Iftar at Moijing, Cachar
  • Candle Light at DU over Assam lynching
  • Demand replacement of Manipur Univ VC
  • The Tragedy of Higher education
  • Unacceptable points spelt out
  • Teinem Luira Phanit @Ukhrul #3: Gallery
  • RPL-PMKVY trainees @Hojai : Gallery
  • Manipur Sports University in UP ?
  • Coloniality of the Postcolonial
  • Yellow leaves in the autumn :: Poem
  • Prof N Irabanta-distinguished academician
  • Leadership matters
  • Artificial turf for budding talents
  • 2 municipal bodies in NE awarded
  • Who is Arambam Somorendra ?
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • Shirock 2018 - Shirui Lily Fest #3 : Gallery
  • Linthoi's "The Tales of Kanglei Throne" #2
  • Grass root challenge- Education in hills
  • Earth does not belong to us...
  • Sita Mata as test-tube baby
  • What happen to VIP Culture Mr. CM
  • Merchants of education
  • Laitonjam Rajnikanta : Profile
  • A blessing to see :: Poem
  • Sovereignty Struggles in Northeast #4
  • Difference between Hinduism & Hindutva
  • How to choose the perfect fragrance
  • Iftaar party at Lilong
  • Bitter truth of Manipuri society
  • MU, NSU, IGNTU : Students at the centre
  • Amuktang-Ga Haikho #1 : eRang
  • Sangai Veterans' Football #2 : Gallery
  • Pony : A Cavalry Horse Par Excellence #2
  • Issues that keep Manipur burning
  • Cry of a Dying River - 32 :: Poem
  • CM & AR interaction with villagers
  • Certification of PMKVY trainees of Hojai
  • Christian appeals for Peace in Shillong
  • How safe are our women?
  • Riders put up by JAC for talk
  • Khangkhui Cave in Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • Pluralism, Democracy & Ethnic Relation #2
  • Irom Sharmila meets with Mehbooba Mufti
  • JRF @ Mizoram University (Biotechnology)
  • Tobacco and heart disease
  • Understanding SOWA - RIGPA #2
  • Campaign "to End Child Sexual Abuse"
  • Implementation of 7th Pay
  • Indigenous street vendor sing gi wafam
  • The crumbling Manipur University
  • Kang Tournament @ Yaiskul : Gallery
  • Zeliangrong orphaned by Nationalism #1
  • A rainy night :: Poem
  • HSLC Exam is the start! What next?
  • 1528 cases of fake encounter
  • Linthoi's "The Tales of Kanglei Throne" #1
  • Handloom Weaver @Bishnupur : Gallery
  • Shirock 2018 - Shirui Lily Fest #2 : Gallery
  • Hinduism in Manipur : Political Perspective
  • All the World and his Wife :: Poem
  • Tribal Cultural Festival #1 : Gallery
  • Women in CCpur turn to self-help groups
  • Purul Paoki Wrestling : Gallery
  • Sangai Veterans' Football #1 : Gallery
  • Khangminashi IV (Lecture) : Report
  • Seminar at MU - Hinduism in Manipur'
  • Evolution of The Meetei State
  • Heartbreak at Ukhrul: Unfolding Shirock
  • State Level Khurpui-Lam Festival: Gallery
  • June Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • School Girls Basketball #2 : Gallery
  • Where is Manipur....???
  • 'Manipur' in Google maps : Gallery
  • The Killing Fields - 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Mama Poktabi :: Funga Wari
  • Veterans Football Tournament #2 : Gallery
  • Shirock 2018 - Shirui Lily Fest #1 : Gallery
  • Sougrakpam Vijaya makes history sailing...
  • Arunachali unfurled Salai Taret at Mt Everest
  • Panthoiba: 2nd Rank- class XII, Uttarkhand
  • Ras Leela @JNMDA Day : Gallery
  • HSLC 208 Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • HSLC 2018 :: Toppers Listing
  • HSLC 2018 :: Check Result
  • HSLC :: Statistical/Subject Topper
  • HSLC 2018 :: External
  • Poumai Purul Hiimai Paoki #2 : Gallery
  • Kakching Garden :: 360 Panorama View
  • Folk Dance Festival #5 : Gallery
  • Aerial view from Chingmeirong : Gallery
  • Curtain Raising- Sangai Fest 2017: Gallery
  • Lainingthou Lai Lam thopka #2 : Gallery
  • Re-visiting Khangkhui caves in Ukhrul
  • Gardening @Ema Keithel #2: Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #2: Gallery
  • Pakhangba Cheng Hongba #2 : Gallery
  • Steelheart @ Shirock , Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • A. Halim Chowdhury: A Profile
  • Class XII Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • Class XII Result : Science Toppers
  • Class XII Result : Arts Toppers
  • Class XII Result : Commerce Toppers
  • HSE Result 2018 : District Wise
  • HSE Result 2018 : Highest Marks
  • HSE Result 2018 : Science Stream
  • HSE Result 2018 : Arts Stream
  • HSE Result 2018 : Commerce Stream
  • Temples of Manipur : Gallery
  • Recipients of Akademi Awards for 2014
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • SPONSORED ADS