Map of Myanmar and ChinaMaps of Myanmar and China
Myanmar still have a part to play in New China Silk Road?
This September I published an essay in which I argued that Myanmar will have a central and important part in China's One Belt One Road policy. A number of comments have been made since the release, alleging that recent activity indicates that Myanmar no longer occupies this stand. First let us look at some of these actions and then judge whether the country still has this part.
Please also be aware that the preceding paper concentrated on the sea lanes, in particular on the effects on China's power supply safety, as shown on the map below. It will cover country roads and securing infrastructures to help change in the way people think about the sea. The recent US lift of penalties has warmed commercial relationships and trading with the US.
This has been believed to have slowed Myanmar-China relations and created the preconditions for China to reconsider its policy of investing in infrastructures. The measures suggest that China's gentle Myanmar still regards as an important part of the Asian delivery jigsaw. Intensified foreign policy activities between the two states ( "the woman was visiting China before the USA and Europe), important talks to solve the Myitsone dam with important infrastructural concession securing the transportation corridors of Yunnan province / Kyauk Phyu, China's function as peacemaker in the northern states' region of war.
And I would suggest that the West's reaction to what is going on in Rakhine State plays into China's hand. Instead of making policy comments, China is sticking to its policy of not meddling in the business of other states. To some extent, China has intervened as part of the resolution and not part of the issue and won the cultural-war.
Myanmar's economic growth next year is likely to be around the 8% level. The ADB and others report that China will make up 40% of commerce. In order to make this commerce easier and more reliable, China has also provided very favourable conditions for the financing of building and infrastructural contracts.
It is suggested that this attempt was part of the Myitsone negotiation process with a watering down of China's attitude to ensure the Yunnan/Kyauk Phyu Korridor. Ongoing development has resulted in the signature of the BCIM (Bangladesh / China / India / Myanmar) Business Cooperation Agreemen.
By superimposing the map below on the previous map, you can quickly see Mandalay's pivotal location state. However, there are some operational questions that need to be addressed, such as the track width and the establishment of SEZs to make handling easier. We can also see the different traffic lanes linking the West with the East, illustrating the possible risks to Singapore's port state, as China is trying to safeguard trading and power lanes without having to use the Malacca Road.
Myanmar, together with what is going on elsewhere in Europe and in places like Baku, is completely changing the logistical equilibrium that has prevailed in East-West commerce over the last 40 years. This will allow producers in formerly insulated, low-cost production areas to take account of the associated use of the railways or ships.
A ADB survey has shown that the train is much less expensive than the boat. However, the survey has disadvantages, as the modeling was double stack train oriented and does not take into consideration both track width as well as cross-border red tape - questions already discussed and partly solved by the BCIM co-operation agreements.
In addition, railway companies are running at up to three times the normal operating speeds, and the possible cost reductions from this new transportation mixture will be reflected in cost reductions along the entire delivery cycle. As navigation and the railways complement each other, as the above-mentioned traffic charts show, Myanmar continues to play an important part in the One Belt One Road concept.
When Dubai learns the lesson, we will create ships that are diverted from the major trading lanes on the back of massive containers that can be loaded onto the railways. Myanmar's Dubai site is an ideal place to occupy a corner within the China One Belt One Road Rollout.