Kyaukpyu China-Myanmar Economic Corridor
Chinese companies won the bid for the project of Kyaukpyu deep-sea port and special economic zone, which sets the stage for designing a China-Myanmar Economic Corridor. On 19 November 2017, China proposed the establishment of a China-Myanmar economic corridor, starting in Southwest China's Yunnan Province, crossing the border, going through the economic center of Myanmar, Mandalay, then splitting into two legs. One leg would run southeast to the former capital of Yangon, which is another economic center. The other leg would run to the Kyaukpyu special economic zone in the west.
Kyaukpyu in Rakhine State, which is the second most undeveloped state in Myanmar. Social problems such as the Rohingya crisis have arisen because economic development lags behind here. Building industrial parks should be an important part of the economic corridor. Under its framework, more effort can be put into improving existing industrial parks in the Kyaukpyu special economic zone. China's practical plan will help Myanmar to resolve its internal conflicts by boosting its economy. It is a manifestation of China's regional responsibility and the embodiment of the policy of "creating an amicable, secure and prosperous neighborhood". With the principle of "achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration," this corridor is an inclusive cooperation system rather than an exclusive one.
The China-Myanmar crude oil and gas pipeline, a pioneer project of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, consists of a crude oil pipeline and a natural gas pipeline, which run from the port of Kyaukpyu on Myanmar's west coast to Ruili in China's Yunnan province. The crude oil pipeline was put into formal operation in April 2017, while the gas pipeline went into full operation in 2013. Up to 30 percent of delivery time will be saved with completion of the pipeline. More important, China will be less dependent on the Strait of Malacca. At present, about 80 percent of China's crude imports have to pass through the strait.
The Myanmar-China Oil Pipeline starting from Made Island in Kyaukpyu of West Myanmar, crosses four states before entering Yunnan Province. Construction on the 771-kilometer pipeline began in 2010 and was completed in 2015. It formally began operation on April 10 this year, when a 140,000-MT oil tanker offloaded its crude oil at the island port. The pipeline has a designed transmission capacity of 22 million tons of crude oil per year, with Myanmar taking two million tons for its own needs. The oil pipeline, built by the joint venture South-East Asia Crude Oil Pipeline Co. Ltd., is owned by China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) holding a 50.9 percent stake and Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) the remainder. Total investment in the pipeline and the Maday oil unloading terminal was about $2.45 billion, with $1.20 billion coming from Myanmar and $1.24 billion from China.
A similar pipeline, known as the Myanmar-China Gas Pipeline, runs parallel to the oil route. The 793-kilometer pipeline began operation in 2013 with a designed annual transmission capacity of 12 billion cubic meters, one-sixth of which can be retained by Myanmar. The natural gas pipeline directly benefits the inhabitants along the pipeline in Myanmar. The natural gas is carried to a gas-operated power plant in Kyaukphyu Township in Rakhine state, easing the shortage of electricity and bringing down electricity charges. Previously, electricity was generated by diesel power.
The twin pipelines are part of the Belt and Road infrastructure and trade cooperation framework that China proposed in 2013 to connect Asia, Europe, Africa as well as the rest of the world. The two pipelines are widely seen as allowing China to diversify its energy supply routes - mostly traversing the sea.
Jiang Changliang, president of CNPC South-East Asia Pipeline Company Ltd (SEAP), is convinced it is far more than that. "The gas pipeline has already become a key energy artery for Myanmar and the oil pipeline will play an increasingly important role for the country in the near future," he told China.org.cn on May 3, "The two pipelines help bring China and Myanmar closer."
The project is important for the connectivity and infrastructure construction among the Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor, as well as China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Made Island Port in Myanmar's western Rakhine state, where oil off-loading arms were erected, is now an important window of China-Myanmar economic and trade cooperation.
By train a rail link from China to Myanmar was started in 2010. In 2015, the $ 20 billion rail link from Kunming to Kyaukpyu is expected to complete the transportation of Middle Kingdom goods to Myanmar and adjacent Indian Ocean countries. Since China finances most of the railway line itself, it is allowed to operate the route for 50 years. Outside the port city of Kyaukpyu, China is also planning to build a development zone. The planned railway line from Kunming via Ruili to Kyaukpyu runs almost parallel to the oil and gas pipeline. Work on the construction of the railway between Kunming and the Myanmar kyaukpyu was unilaterally suspended by Myanmar in 2014.
Some Myanmar people worry that as the rail project will be constructed under the Build-Operate-Transfer system, after 50 years of operation, Myanmar will only get an old and obsolete railway. Such concerns are superfluous. China will assure Myanmar a sustainable and operational railway when it hands over the line.
Construction began on the Nu River Bridge, a project along the Sino-Myanmar Railway, on 24 January 2016. It will be the steel truss railroad bridge with the longest span in the world. Located at the junction of the Shidian county and Longling county in southwest China's Yunnan Province, the Nu River Bridge will have a total length of 1,024 meters. The height of the bridge above the river will be 211 meters. The bridge will mainly use steel truss arch beams with a span of 490 meters. Due to restrictions arising from the special topography of the Nu River and Gaoligong mountains, the railway station will be built upon a deck. The width of the deck will reach 24.9 meters, which will be the widest among the same type of railway bridges in China.
The Sino-Myanmar Railway linking China's Kunming and Myanmar's Yangon covers a total length of 1,920 kilometers, among which, a 690-km-long section is in the territory of China. A 350-km-long railway from Kunming to Dali in China has been built. With the Nu River Railway Bridge, the 340-km-long railway linking Dali and Ruili will help to reduce the current travel time of 7 hours to about 2 hours by train.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|