China opens first road-rail transport link to Indian Ocean

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

  • China opens first road-rail transport link to Indian Ocean published in The Hindu on 1st Sep 2021.
  • China expands its activities to Sri Lanka’s north; India worried published in TOI on 1st Sep 2021.
What is the news?
  1. Firstly, the first shipments on a newly-launched railway line from the Myanmar border to the key commercial hub of Chengdu in western China were delivered last week. A “test cargo” through what is being called the China-Myanmar New Passage arrived at the Chengdu rail port in Sichuan province.
  2. Secondly, red flags are going up in India over China’s fresh attempts to expand its footprint in northern Sri Lanka in the garb of infrastructure projects, with Beijing even making efforts to woo the ethnic Tamil community there.
Ananth Krishnan on Twitter: "China opens first road-rail transport link to the Indian Ocean via Myanmar… "China-Myanmar New Passage

The transport corridor involves a sea-road-rail link.

  • Goods from Singapore reached Yangon Port, arriving by ship through the Andaman Sea of the northeastern Indian Ocean, and were then transported by road to Lincang on the Chinese side of the Myanmar-China border in Yunnan province.
  • The new railway line that runs from the border town of Lincang to Chengdu, a key trade hub in western China, completes the corridor.
Other port dev plans by China
  • China also has plans to develop another port in Kyaukphyu in the Rakhine state, including a proposed railway line from Yunnan directly to the port, but the progress there has been stalled by unrest in Myanmar.
  • Gwadar port: China has also looked at the Gwadar port in Pakistan as another key outlet to the Indian Ocean that will bypass the Malacca Straits. The costs and logistics through CPEC are also less favorable than the Myanmar route to Chengdu. Transportation time on the railway line from the Myanmar border to Chengdu takes just three days.
Expanding Chinese footprint in Sri Lanka

China, which has already made deep strategic inroads into Sri Lanka through its predatory debt policies, is now working towards establishing its presence on the island nation as close to the Indian coast as possible.

  • Earlier, the Chinese projects were largely restricted to southern Sri Lanka. But the present Rajapaksa government is now facilitating several Chinese ventures in northern Sri Lanka as well, often ignoring sentiments of Tamil residents there.
  • These development projects in the Northern province of Sri Lanka are a cause of concern for India as they could be later exploited for strategic reasons in the future.

Apart from Sri Lanka, China has been systematically spreading its wings in the entire Indian Ocean Region (IOR) by forging maritime links with Seychelles, Mauritius, Maldives, Bangladesh, Myanmar and east African countries, among others.

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