@herenow: "comparing Kunming's potential to that of Dandong strikes me as preposterous"
I'm not sure if my point was clear.
While Kunming faces uphill struggle (as noted by someone else) in competition against Chengdu or Chongqing, my point was that Kunming's future potential is limited even in comparison to DPRK border region in the northeast.
On topic of that link you posted (proposed bullet train connecting Kunming to India):
Bullet trains are results of achieved development status, not signs of development itself. They transport people and at best e-commerce deliveries.
They don't transfer bulk cargo, or improve economy other than during the building phase, in the lowest income groups through employment in construction.
And that's yet another road.
Getting from Shanghai or Guangdong to India (or the other way) without necessarily even stopping in Yunnan other than to discard trash and fill-up on consumables.
It is also worth considering that huge infrastructure projects are a good way of boosting GDP. GDP figures are often used as a marker for government performance, and can be self serving. In other words, building infrastructure to boost GDP figures can be an end in itself; even if you are building a road to nowhere you are spending/creating GDP. This could sit with the WHY questions I alluded to earlier.
@tiger: I take your point about boosting GDP FIGURES, but I can't see that as the major end in itself - and no, you haven't said that.
@tigertiger and JanJal: I probably should have been clearer. When I said the article about the bullet train was illustrative, I meant: illustrative of the fact that the world's second-most populous country is just on the other side of Burma. I think an analysis of Kunming's cross-border potential that's limited to Burma, Laos and Vietnam (as was presented by JanJal) misses the elephant in the room, so to speak.
@tigertiger: I don't disagree with your point about Chongqing and London, except that Zhongnanhai can apply a lot more pressure than Westminster if it has a mind to.
Agree with herenow's points, especially about China and India, though for several reasons it might take marginally longer for that flower to bloom. .
@herenow: "fact that the world's second-most populous country is just on the other side of Burma"
India and China share one thing in common, and that is competing for the same jobs to improve the life of the lowest income groups.
The bullet trains are more than illustrative in the sense that they can transport people and ideas to share experiences on this matter.
Other than that, between China and India, it remains between China and India. Yunnan or Kunming have limited role in that.
For these parts to prosper in that, Kunming would have to become more than a road or gateway -
manufacturing hub for something that Indians want, or end station for Indian products.
None of either in sight. Indians don't want to sell products to poor Yunnanese, they want to pass through to Guangdong and beyond.
And why would freight trains from the coast stop in Kunming if they don't have to?
Real potential of that elephant in room could only be unleashed by tectonic shifts in political system of China. None in sight either.
In other news Wuhan is the Paris of the East and Changsha is the new Berlin.
@JanJal: I like the logic of your post, although I'd define 'India and China', in the context of sentence 2, as the Indian and Chinese wealthier and more powerful classes as competing for labor, not jobs, to improve... well, whoever they have to, but definitely to include the improvement of their own positions.
As for 'tectonic shifts in political system in China, I can think of several possibilities that you might mean but don't know quite what you're thinking of.
@cloudtrapezer: Do the what??
@Ishmael: "can think of several possibilities that you might mean but don't know quite what"
China and India are competitors more than collaborators, and will remain so until things change politically. It would have to change more in China than in India, or they both stand to lose.
India's problems are not with politics but with the people. In China, in my opinion, it is the exact opposite.
If China was a different kind of country, it wouldn't be China investing to make Yunnan a gateway to neighbouring countries, but India investing in Yunnan to make it a gateway to China. In that role, Yunnan would be better equipped to develop itself as that presentation of China.