BRI links the CLMVT Regional Developments in large-scale cross-border Infrastructure Projects

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, a significant development strategy launched by the Chinese government with the intention of promoting economic co-operation among countries along the proposed Belt and Road routes. The Initiative has been designed to enhance the orderly free-flow of economic factors and the efficient allocation of resources. It is also intended to further market integration and create a regional economic co-operation framework of benefit to all. The Silk Road Spirit – “peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit” – is the mantra that has been passed from generation to generation, promoted the progress of human civilization, and contributed greatly to the prosperity and development of the countries along the Silk Road. Symbolizing communication and cooperation between the East and the West, the Silk Road Spirit is a historic and cultural heritage shared by many countries around the world.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) issued its Vision and Actions on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road on 28 March 2015. This outlined the framework, key areas of co-operation and co-operation mechanisms with regard to the Belt and Road Initiative.

Some of the information here is gathered from the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative with a focus on the implications on Maritime Silk Road, particularly in the CLMVT region. Orpheus Group and Stark Networks AG are working closely in private public partnerships with regional governments, officials and private enterprise; a series of carefully selected projects with a focus on sustainable development to support local communities and rising tourist numbers makes up the projects in the CLMVT projects portfolio.

China unveiled the concept for the Twenty-First Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) in 2013 as a development strategy to boost infrastructure connectivity throughout Southeast Asia, Oceania, the Indian Ocean, and East Africa. The MSR is the maritime complement to the Silk Road Economic Belt, which focuses on infrastructure development across Central Asia. Together these initiatives form the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative designed to enhance China’s influence across Asia.

There is a shortage of infrastructure investment to meet the needs of developing nations across the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and most nations have welcomed the opportunity to bid for Chinese funding. At the same time, there are growing questions about the economic viability and the geopolitical intentions behind China’s proposals. Thus far MSR initiatives have mainly been concentrated in the littoral states of the Indo-Pacific region, especially port-development projects, which is raising questions about whether these investments are economic or military in nature. These large-scale investments are also structured in ways that invite questions about the potential for China to exert undo leverage over the domestic and foreign policies of heavily indebted recipient countries.

The Focus

  • Chinese state-owned firms have reached agreements with Myanmar to construct a $7.3 billion deep-water port and $2.7 billion industrial area in a special economic zone at Kyaukpyu along the coast of the Bay of Bengal. The strategic town is the terminus of a $1.5 billion oil pipeline and parallel natural gas pipeline running to Kunming in China’s Yunnan Province.
  • Despite fears that the project could eventually be used for Chinese military access, political and legal restrictions in Myanmar make this unlikely. The project is aimed mainly at helping China avoid the vulnerable Strait of Malacca and aid the development of its southwestern hinterland.
  • Like many major projects under the Belt and Road Initiative, there are well-founded fears that the project could grant China a dangerous level of economic leverage over Myanmar, especially if the government in Naypyidaw is forced to turn to Chinese loans to fund its share of the port and SEZ, which combined could amount to 5 percent of national GDP.


Kyaukpyu is a coastal town along the Bay of Bengal in Myanmar’s western-most state of Rakhine state. In 2016, subsidiaries of China’s CITIC Group Corporation, including China Harbor Engineering Company, won contracts for two major projects in the town—the dredging of a deep-sea port and the creation of an industrial area in an accompanying special economic zone (SEZ). The port project is valued at $7.3 billion and the SEZ at $2.7 billion. Under the terms of the deal, CITIC will build and then run the project for 50 years with a potential extension of another 25 years.

China recently has won the contracts to develop a deep-sea port at Kyaukpyu and an industrial area in a special economic zone (SEZ) nearby and has shown a visionary initiative to move forward quickly with regional development plans. Kyaukpyu is also the terminus for an oil pipeline and a parallel natural gas pipeline running to Kunming, capital of southwestern China’s Yunnan Province. Those projects reflect a strategic effort by Beijing to reduce its reliance on oil and gas imports through the Strait of Malacca, and a deep-sea port at Kyaukpyu could similarly help China in its drive to develop its inland provinces. The CLMVT region stands to benefit greatly from these large-scale infrastructure projects. Poling references regional concerns about the potential that China would leverage a port at Kyaukpyu for military purposes but pragmatically concludes that at present the overriding fear within Myanmar is China’s potential economic leverage via debt financing. Many critics of China’s robust development plans often overlook the fact that other countries in the CLMVT region are also working with each other, and the mutual growth opportunities for the populations and cultures in ASEAN far outweigh the influences of China on any single country in this region.

Myanmar minister dismisses Chinese ‘debt trap’ fears over joint port project

Myanmar minister dismisses Chinese ‘debt trap’ fears over joint port project

Thaung Tun insists government is keen to push on with deep water project after reports it was negotiating to push down the costs

South China Morning Post: Saturday, 30 June, 2018, 1:31pm

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *