China’s First Road­rail Transport Link To Indian Ocean

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    • Recently, China opened the first road­rail transport link to the Indian Ocean.

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    • 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.
    • It provides China a new road-rail transportation channel to the Indian Ocean.
    • It connects the logistics lines of Singapore, Myanmar and China. 
    • The new railway line completes the transport corridor involving a sea-road-rail link.
    • It  is currently the most convenient land and sea channel linking the Indian Ocean with southwest China. One way saves 20-22 days.

     

    Image Courtesy: TH

     

    Other connectivity plans of 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.
    • Chinese planners have also looked at the Gwadar port in Pakistan as another key outlet to the Indian Ocean that will bypass the Malacca Straits. Gwadar is being developed as part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to the far western Xinjiang region, but has been slow to take off amid concerns over security. 
    • The railway line currently ends in Lincang on the Chinese side opposite the Myanmar Border trade town of Chin Shwe Haw. Plans are underway to develop Chin Shwe Haw as a “border economic cooperation zone” under the Belt and Road Initiative.
    • The costs and logistics through CPEC are also less favourable than the Myanmar route with the opening of the rail transport channel from the Myanmar border right to western China’s biggest commercial hub, Chengdu. 

     

    Threats to India

    • China’s direct access to the Bay of Bengal is a major threat to India. 
    • Andaman and Nicobar Islands also come along the way China wants to trade with South East Asian countries. 
    • Chinese ships will later pass through the Bay of Bengal on a large scale. 
    • With this they can easily keep an eye on the Indian islands. 
    • Due to the increasing reach of China, the crisis can also increase in Northeast India where rebels often attack.
    • China’s Western Theatre Command (WTC) is tasked with the responsibility for the Indian strategic direction.  The 77th Group Army will play a major role in the mobilisation of the forces if there’s an escalation near the Arunachal Pradesh border due to its proximity to the region.
    • The Sichuan-Tibet railway runs dangerously close to the Indian border near Arunachal Pradesh. Thus, on completion in 2030, it will enhance the PLA’s mobility and connectivity on the border with India, especially in the eastern sector.

     

    Way Ahead

    • India needs to keep a constant watch on all developments having a bearing on India’s security. 
    • The Government of India has to facilitate the economic development of border areas to meet India’s strategic and security requirements. 
    • The necessary measures should be taken to safeguard India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

    Source: TH