Myanmar has started work on a railway line from its planned deep-sea port at Kyaukphyu to south-western China's Yunnan province, Chinese media reported on Sunday.

The railway line, which will be completed in 2015, will transport Chinese goods for export, and also be used by China to expand its access to Myanmar's natural resources.

The two countries, last year, began work on an oil pipeline from Kyaukphyu to Ruili in Yunnan. The planned railroad will also run from Kyaukphyu, which is in Myanmar's western Rakhine state, to Ruili and Yunnan's capital Kunming. China's official Xinhua agency said China also planned to invest in a special industrial zone at Kyaukphyu.

The railway project, and the development of the port, were discussed last month during Myanmar leader General Than Shwe's talks here with Chinese President Hu Jintao. The Myanmar's military regime leader also sought Chinese support for elections scheduled for next month.

In recent years, Chinese companies, particularly those based in south-western Yunnan province which neighbours Myanmar, have accelerated investments in oil, gas and natural resources in the country. China has also invested in developing deep-sea ports, such as Kyaukphyu in Maday Island, part of a larger plan to secure greater access to Indian Ocean ports and reduce its dependence on the narrow Malacca Straits for its imports of oil from West Asia and Africa.

China eventually hopes to use Kyaukphyu as a centre for its imports of oil. The China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) is involved in building both a deep-sea port and storage facilities, from where oil will be transported through the planned pipeline, expected to be opened in 2012, to Yunnan.

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