Myanmar authorities want to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to make the country an important hub connecting Southeast Asia and South Asia. Some US$ 10 billion are earmarked for conflict-torn Rakhine.
Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Myanmar is looking at ways to complement schemes like China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) in order to develop its infrastructure.
Construction Minister U Win Khaing yesterday told the ASEAN and Asia Forum in Singapore that his country needed to improve its infrastructure quickly to cope with the mass internal migration to its cities.
The government said that it was in contact with various potential partners, including China and Japan, in order to promote Myanmar as a hub to connect Southeast Asia and South Asia, the minister said.
The BRI blueprint is China’s ambitious push to revive trade along ancient routes through Asia to Africa and Europe.
Beijing has pledged massive investment in Myanmar, including commitments to build roads, railways, ports, and oil pipelines.
About US$ 10 billion in Chinese investment has been earmarked for a deep seaport, a trading estate and a special economic zone in Kyaukphyu in Rakhine, as well as other infrastructure projects in the remote western state affected by a major humanitarian crisis.
In 2013, China and Myanmar agreed to a joint venture in a 17 sq. km area for an industrial and infrastructure base serving the two countries.
Private firms are also involved in the plan. A China-led consortium is behind a US$ 7.3 billion deep-water port development and a US$ 2.45 billion oil and gas pipeline.
Earlier this year, work on the Chinese-financed US$ 3.6 billion Myitsone Dam was suspended amid protests over environmental concerns. It would have become the first dam to cross the Irrawaddy River, the mythic cradle of the Burmese civilisation.