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China Attempts to Gain Access To IOR Via Myanmar

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China is making inroads into the Indian Ocean Region. India’s immediate eastern neighbourhood –– the Myanmar-Laos-Cambodia-Thailand belt is being threatened by China as the Communist nation is giving a major push to infrastructure projects in the area. This move will give China unprecedented access to the Indian Ocean Region, a region which comes under India’s sphere of influence.

China is actively assisting Myanmar in various sectors including a strategic port eastern part of Shan state (Myanmar) besides a railway project in Laos, Economic Times reported. Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s recent trip to South East Asia provided a fillip to these projects.

Located in Tachileik district in the eastern part of Shan state, the strategic port lies on the Mekong River. It is an important project for China as it will allow it to expand its influence over the Mekong region. Beijing is committed to turning Wan Pong into one of the major regional ports on the Mekong, according to Economic Times.

During the pandemic, Laos has supplied rice to China using the port. The port is very important as it will help China connect with Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries.

Considering Myanmar’s unique geographical position – the country is crucial for China to access Bangladesh and Southeast Asia via its land border and also the Indian Ocean. Chinese media have hyped the project describing the China-Laos Railway as a new engine to boost economic cooperation between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Agriculture, water resources, digital economy, aerospace, education and public health are the areas that China has suggested cooperating with Myanmar in.

The ET said that this April, China launched a land-sea trade corridor that opened direct access to the Indian Ocean via Myanmar. The new trade corridor travels through four Mekong countries—China (Chongqing), Laos (Vientiane), Thailand (Bangkok) and Myanmar (Yangon)—to the Indian Ocean, according to Chinese media.

The Chinese Embassy in Myanmar recently said that the new route is “an important breakthrough in strengthening China-Myanmar trade relations for Beijing”. The route cuts transport time in half. Goods from inland areas in western China can be taken directly to Southeast Asia and South Asia through Myanmar quickly.

China’s international trade routes are incomplete without the China-Myanmar Railway. Recently, China finished work on the Dali-Ruili Railway. The route is a crucial part of the China-Myanmar International trade corridor.

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