Ongoing efforts to connect Kunming to markets in India and central Asia took an apparent detour yesterday in Beijing. China and Bangladesh tentatively agreed to construct a road and railway system linking Kunming and Chittagong, Financial Express is reporting.
The proposed transportation route, called the Ctg-Kunming Road and Railway Link, could be a boon for Bangladeshi infrastructure and trade. It would also provide a cheaper alternative than is presently available for shipping goods between China and its western neighbors.
Currently, the only transport options from Southwest China to Bangladesh and India are costly air shipments or long sea routes. Shipping by sea requires freighters to pass south of Singapore and through the US-patrolled Malacca Strait. Building a road and rail system to Bangladesh would cut the trip by thousands of kilometers.
Thursday's agreement may have political ramifications for three of the most populous countries on earth. The tentative understanding with Bangladesh undercuts years of slow progress between China and India to rebuild the Stilwell Road, which once connected Kunming to the northeast Indian state of Assam.
Completion of the Stilwell Road has hit repeated snags over the past five years and it appears China may be looking elsewhere for trade connectivity. Although the 600-kilometer Chinese segment of the road is finished, the Indian government has yet to finish its relatively small 60-kilometer stretch.
The Kunming to Chittagong link was brought up during a meeting between Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping (习近平) and former Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. The two also discussed increased political and economic ties between their respective countries and Xi indicated China would increase its aid programs to Bangladesh.
In addition to the rail and road link, Xi and Khaleda spoke about bilateral cooperation to build a deep water port in the city of Sonadia, 140 kilometers south of Chittagong. If built in conjunction with the Ctg-Kunming road, it could bypass the Malacca straight entirely.© Copyright 2005-2019 GoKunming.com all rights reserved. This material may not be republished, rewritten or redistributed without permission.