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China eyes Chittagong port via rail corridor to Bangladesh

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19 June 2015

China has proposed to build a 3,000-kilometre high-speed railway line between Kunming, capital city of south western Chinese province of Yunnan and Kolkata that will pass through Mandalay in Myanmar and Chittagong and Dhaka in Bangladesh.

The Kunming-Kolkata link would be part of China-Myanmar-Bangladesh Economic Corridor aimed at boosting trade and investment. The rail link will also give China access to Bangladeshi's Chittagong port.

The project could be funded through China's Silk Road Development Fund or China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Fund, Li Jiming, reports quoted vice-secretary general of Yunnan province as saying.

The reports were published by a group of journalists taken to the province recently at the Chinese government's invitation.

"The proposal has been discussed with India and other countries. It will be beneficial for all of us as it will facilitate trade and people-to-people contact," Li said, adding that the response from Bangladesh and Myanmar was encouraging.

"We could fund the project through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and other agencies."

The four countries have agreed on building and encouraging road, rail, air and waterways connectivity among each other, besides laying power transmission lines and oil pipelines. China has started building a highway network.

"We are already constructing network of highways in our domestic territory which has a border with Myanmar. Response from Bangladesh and India is also encouraging," Li said.

The corridor will harness economic activity, promote investment and trade, and facilitate people-to-people contact, he said.

To promote the concept, China organised the China-South Asia Expo in Kunming, where more than 100 Indian companies, including Tata Group firms, Infosys and Jet Airways took part.

The proposals follows the signing of an agreement by transport ministers of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal in Thimphu, Bhutan, on 15 June, to facilitate seamless movement of passengers and cargo vehicles across the countries.

China has pledged $40 billion for the Silk Route which, it says, has a trade potential of $132 billion.

China is seeking a revival of the silk route with a visionary plan to establish wide ranging connectivity from Kunming to Kolkata.

Yunnan enjoys crucial geographical location, involving in GMS and BCIM regional cooperation. It is one of the major provinces engaged in construction of China-Indo-China peninsula economic corridor and BCIM economic corridor.

China is also planning to start flight services by its Shandong Airlines between Kunming and New Delhi from next month as part of its efforts to strengthen connectivity.





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