Myanmar-China sign 33 deals of BRI: Increases China’s ease of access of Indian Ocean

On January 18, 2020, China and Myanmar signed 33 new deals under BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) to implement China-Myanmar Economic Corridor. Also, a concession agreement was signed by he countries to implement the deep seaport project called Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone.

Highlights

The agreements were signed to strengthen the collaboration in infrastructure sector that includes rail connectivity, roads and power interconnection projects. However, the controversial Myitsone dam project that is backed by China was not discussed.

India’s Concerns

The project allows China to have easy of access to Indian Ocean. This is because this route bypasses Strait of Malacca through which China imports most of its oil requirements. Strait of Malacca connects Andaman Sea and South China Sea. This route is on the international boundary and is far from India’s territories as compared to the Myanmar route. With China of Ease of access to Indian Ocean, India has to strengthen its Navy to safeguard its interests in the region. Also, Indian Navy is already witnessing increased Chinese presence in the IOR.

This will aid in China’s plans of String of Pearls.

Myitsone Dam

The project was proposed across Irawaddy river. It was suspended and the Chinese tried to revive it at an estimated cost of 3.6 billion USD. The project is controversial as it is located at a 60-mile distance from the Sagaing fault line.

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