Like a huge geopolitical board game, Myanmar has found itself at the centre of plans for key infrastructure and connectivity initiatives linking East to West.
After 50 years of isolation, Myanmar is set to feature in Chinas new Silk Road development, it’s expected to open trade doors for countless countries. The city of Mandalay will become part of the route stretching from Kunming to Kolkata, running through China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and India.
China isn’t the only player on the board though. India is working hard to create its own network of alternative trade and transportation. With this frontier country recently coming into its own, Myanmar is also at a point where the interests of China and India both intercept. Last year, Prime Minister Narenda Modi and President Htin Kyaw met and signed four new agreements, two of these based around connecting the two countries. They depict a stronger relationship between India and Myanmar.
Communities, business owners and government are all going to be impacted on by these massive projects. The country’s economy has mainly been supported by the agricultural production of rice. Rice farms span over 60% of the country’s total land area. But this fast-developing country is catching up on decades of underdevelopment. Myanmar is planning on adding more diverse types of energy across the country, but say that they will keep renewable energy as their top priority. With renewable energy at the fore front of industrial strategy, this makes the country even more desirable along a trading route.
Chinas Belt Road Initiative (BRI) could been viewed as a narrow China focus. All other initiatives (when put together) could offer a more comprehensive integration of trade connectivity between Europe and Asia.
Both India and China want control over key waterways in and around towns such as Sittwe and Kyauk Phyu in Myanmar. Their joint focus is on key zones and facilities like these in Rahkine, which are in very close proximity to one another.
Myanmar is currently host to this 21st century game, but it’s safe to say a lot more moves need to be played before the winner is revealed.
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