Myanmar’s Deepening Diplomatic Ties: Benefits for China & Impact on Kyuakphyu Port

Myanmar’s Deepening Diplomatic Ties: Benefits for China & Impact on Kyuakphyu Port

Question: Myanmar has deepened diplomatic ties with other nations. Discuss how this impacts the Chinese plan to develop a deep water port at Kyaukphyu and the benefits of the port for China.

Benefits for China

- The deepwater port will play a significant role in the Maritime Silk Road

- It will change prospects for southwest provinces of China

- Chinese have emerged as MSR architects which will cover coastal zones from the Pacific and the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean coast

- Project will also generate millions of jobs along port, marine industry, parks, smart cities, entertainment and tourism centres along the Eurasian maritime space

- Kyaukphu port also has strategic significance in that it services trade to Yunnan province in China(gateway to Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar) besides parts of India

- Port will aid China in avoiding the Malacca trap through the channelling of trade via networks superseding the US dominance of Malacca straits

- US has strengthened its presence in the Pacific under the Asia Pivot doctrine whereby avoiding the Malacca Strait has assumed greater geopolitical significance for China

- The port is also part of a larger developmental framework including the establishment of SEZ and enriching of Rakhine in Myanmar to a mini Singapore

- China is leveraging this port for energy security as well through avoidance of the Malacca straits for its oil and gas shipment

Impact on Port Prospects

- Myanmar is now opening up to the world, including the west and this is hampering its relations with China

- Myanmar government has refused a rail project to connect the port with the border town of Muse recently

- In 2011, it also suspended work on the 6000 MW China funded Myitsone hydropower dam signalling growing dissonance in Sino-Myanmarese ties

- Environment and human displacement concerns are also paramount

- Moreover, job creation benefits would be more useful for outsiders who are qualified as against Myanmarese lacking in training

- China needs to pursue a grassroots development approach to get Myanmar’s aid for this strategically important deepwater port

Facts and Stats

- The new deepwater port planned at Kyaukphyu in Myanmar could provide a major boost to the Maritime Silk Road Initiative

- Port at Ramree Island in Bay of Bengal will become operational following the establishment of a deep sea berth in 2020 and five other berths will be added in the coming 10 years

- Second phase of the project will start in 2030 and 4 berths will be added in 6 years

- The port clocks a handling capacity of 7 million twenty foot equivalent containers
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