The Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor aims to connect Kolkata with Kunming, capital of the Yunnan province of China. It foresees the formation of a thriving economic belt, focusing on cross-border transport, energy, and telecommunication networks. India will benefit in terms of the development of the Kolkata port and the opening up of the economic potential of the northeast states. Earlier BCIM was part of China’s BRI initiative; recently the project has been de-listed from the BRI umbrella.
The 2800 km BCIM corridor proposes to link Kunming in China’s Yunnan province with Kolkata, passing through nodes such as Mandalay in Myanmar and Dhaka in Bangladesh before heading to Kolkata. The multi-modal corridor will be the first expressway between India and China and will pass through Myanmar and Bangladesh.
Citing “sovereignty” concerns, India has not officially participated in the BRI, as CPEC—a flagship of the BRI—passes through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). Now, South Asia is being covered by three major undertakings under BRI –
- China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC)
- China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
- Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional Connectivity Network
Benefits accrue to India after joining BCIM
- Development of the Kolkata port and the opening up of the economic potential of the northeast states and connectivity of NE region with neighbouring countries.
- India’s gain from the BCIM includes the ability to connect to the One Belt, One Road project thus opening up markets to the east.
- Improve relationship b/w India and China, though trust deficit b/w two great Asian powers.
- Tourism too will get a boost which creates employment opportunities and tourism will boost other connected sector like hospitality.
- The Corridor will create opportunities for SME to locate in India.
- Bangladesh has huge resources of natural gases and Bangladesh could become one of the major energy exporting countries.
- BCIM support India to realise its ‘Act East’ Policy.
- BCIM helps to create infrastructure in the NE region which is most backward on development parameter.
- Substantially reduce transaction costs, enhance trade and investment and poverty abolishment in the region.
- Access to several booming markets in Southeast Asia, improvement of transport infrastructure and setting up of industrial zones.
- The regional connectivity would facilitate cross-border movement of people and goods, reduce overland trade bottlenecks, ensure access and increase volume of trade. This helps in economic growth with quality products at a cheap price and improves competitiveness.
Challenges to join BCIM
- Security is a very important aspect of BCIM that ethnic insurgencies, drug trafficking, terrorism, and the accompanying spread of HIV infections, smuggling, as well as cross-border human trafficking, threatened to derail the project.
- BCIM give China access in BoB which is a strategic disadvantage for India
- China cannot be trusted, due to divergent positions of the two countries on Arunachal Pradesh and PoK.
- Integration of the region is difficult due to complex geography and landscape
China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC)
- The CMEC will lessen China's dependency on the Malacca straits for trade and energy reliance.
- From there it will head towards Yangon, before terminating at the Kyaukpyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on the Bay of Bengal.
- The 1,700-km corridor provides connectivity b/w China (Yunnan Province) and central Myanmar (Mandalay) another node to access the Indian Ocean.
- China is worried that US Naval domination over the Malacca straits can threaten one of China’s major economic lifeline.
- Malacca straits is the strategic narrow passage that connects the Indian Ocean to the Pacific. Malacca straits is the important choke point in important sea line of communication b/w Indian Ocean and the pacific Ocean
Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional Connectivity Network
The Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan connectivity network starting from Chengdu (China), from where it is connected to Tibet by the Sichuan-Tibet Highway and Railway. China has envisaged that the railway can eventually be connected with the Indian railway network, linking China and India across the Himalayas.
China–Pakistan Economic Corridor
CPEC is a collection of infrastructure projects that are presently under construction throughout Pakistan. Originally valued at $46 billion, the value of CPEC projects is worth $62 billion as of 2017. CPEC is intended to swiftly modernize Pakistani infrastructure and strengthen its economy by the construction of modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects, and special economic zones. In November 2016, CPEC became partly operational when Chinese cargo was transported overland to Gwadar Port for onward maritime shipment to Africa and West Asia. CPEC running some 3000 km from Xinjiang to Balochistan via Khunjerab Pass in the Northern Parts of Pakistan.