China clinches multi-billion-dollar strategic port deal with Myanmar

Beijing: China has clinched a multi-billion-dollar deal to build a port at a strategic town along the coast of the Bay of Bengal in Myanmar, its third project in India’s neighbourhood after Sri Lanka and Pakistan. China and Myanmar signed an agreement on Thursday to build the deep sea port project in Kyaukpyu town after negotiations dragged for years due to financing and other issues, state-run Global Times reported on Friday.

China is also developing deep water strategic Gwadar port in Pakistan in the Arabian Sea which faces the Mumbai coast. It has also acquired Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port on debt swap in the Indian Ocean. China has persistently denied the String of Pearls theory of building strategic network of ports to encircle India.

Under the agreement, China will fund 70 per cent of the investment for the project and Myanmar will pitch in the remaining 30 per cent. This is the biggest project China has secured after Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi took charge of the government, replacing the prolonged rule of pro-China  military junta. Prolonged negotiations have fuelled criticism of the move as it could add to Myanmar debts and even threaten other countries’ sovereignty.

The Kyaukpyu project is estimated to bring 100,000 jobs to the local community and will contribute as much as USD 15 billion in tax revenue to Myanmar. Once completed, the port will have an annual gross output of USD 3.2 billion, the report said.

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