Xi Jinping backs China-Myanmar economic corridor during talks with Suu Kyi

In this August 19, 2016 file photo, Myanmar's State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, left, shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, pose for the media before their meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China.   | Photo Credit: AP

China and Myanmar have moved a step closer to negotiate the China-Myanmar economic corridor — an initiative that is being given high priority on account of the stalled Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) connectivity proposal.

On Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping advocated that Beijing and Naypyidaw should “nurture new growth points, such as discussing the construction of China-Myanmar economic corridor, so as to advance bilateral ties,” Xinhua reported. He made these remarks during a meeting with visiting State Counsellor from Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi.

On her part, Ms. Suu Kyi “agreed with China's proposal of building the Myanmar-China economic corridor,” the report added.

President Xi’s backing for the corridor followed last month’s announcement of this plan in Myanmar by Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi. During his visit to Myanmar, Mr. Wang said that the Y-shaped corridor can start from China’s Yunnan province, and head towards Mandalay in Myanmar. From there it could extend towards the east and west to Yangon New City and Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone, in the Rakhine province.

During his stay Mr. Wang had also proposed a three-point plan to resolve the Rohingya refugee crisis, for which Ms. Suu Kyi has been widely criticised in the West. Ethnic Rohingyas have flooded into neighbouring Bangladesh, amid allegations of human rights abuses by Myanmar's military.

Mr. Wang had advocated a ceasefire, followed by the repatriation of refugees, followed by a long term plan, with international support, for the economic development of Myanmar’s affected Rakhine state.

The state-run tabloid Global Times is reporting that Bangladesh-China-Myanmar cooperation will be given first priority given “India's reluctance to participate in the BCIM cooperation”.

Negotiations for the formation of the BCIM corridor, which would link Kolkata with the Chinese city of Kunming, have virtually stalled after Beijing went ahead with its plans to establish the China-Pakistan economic corridor. The daily said that the China-Myanmar corridor will connect Beijing with the Indian Ocean.

“The China-Myanmar corridor will enhance connectivity between the two countries. The existing highways, oil and gas pipelines, as well as the railroads and expressways under construction will give China the best access to the Indian Ocean,” the write up observed.

It added: “The corridor will also accelerate the transfer of China's industries to Myanmar. Due to the rising cost of labour, overcapacity and industrial development, China has begun to transfer some of its

industries abroad. In this aspect, the corridor will also help turn Myanmar into an important destination for China and other East Asian countries, and will help create more jobs and bolster development locally.”

Despite a flurry of diplomatic interaction between China and Myanmar in the aftermath of the Rohingya crisis, the Myanmar side, shedding a zero-sum approach, is also actively engaging with India.

As Ms. Suu Kyi was preparing for her China visit, Zaw Myint Maung, Chief Minister of Mandalay Region Government, was in Kolkata, seeking Indian investments in the central Myanmar region. Speaking at an international conference, late last month, he backed India’s Act East Policy and Neighbourhood First approach that promoted New Delhi’s relationship with the ASEAN countries including Myanmar, the news portal Mizzima reported.

Last week the India-Myanmar Bilateral Military Exercise (IMBAX-2017) also concluded at the Joint Training Node in Umroi, Meghalaya.

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Printable version | Mar 5, 2021 11:28:32 PM |

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