Restarting China-Myanmar Railway Becomes Key to China’s Trans-Asian Railway Construction
The Myanmar government has announced that discussions are underway regarding the resumption of the Myanmar railway project. This project is a component of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative and aims to connect China’s Yunnan Province with the Bay of Bengal region, spanning approximately 1,000 kilometers and divided into two parts: from Muse to Mandalay and from Mandalay to the port city of Kyaukpyu on the Bay of Bengal.
Once completed, the railway will provide China with an alternative route that bypasses the Malacca Strait, thereby avoiding any potential impact resulting from the blockade of the strait on Middle Eastern oil shipments. China’s energy security is one of its primary concerns, as approximately 70% of their crude oil needs are imported, with most of it sourced from Saudi Arabia.
Several foreign media outlets have suggested that China is accelerating the construction of the Trans-Asian Railway network to ensure energy transportation security due to Russia’s increased crude oil supply to China following international sanctions for its military operations against Ukraine. The implementation of the railway project was previously halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Myanmar government has held consultations with China regarding resuming the project.
One of the 33 agreements signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Myanmar in January 2020 included the railway project. In 2022, the first part of the railway project was approved by the Myanmar government, and plans were made to complete the railway despite traversing rugged terrain and regions within Myanmar. The railway also intends to launch a rail line connecting China and Thailand through Laos in late May, with plans to expand the frequency of operations in late June.
In summary, the China-Myanmar railway project is a crucial component of China’s Trans-Asian Railway construction. Its completion will provide China with a more stable and reliable energy transportation route while avoiding the impact of the Malacca Strait blockade on Middle Eastern oil shipments, thus ensuring China’s energy security.
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