Kyaukphyu-Kunming Railway Not Dead Yet: Chinese Envoy

Kyaukphyu-Kunming Railway Not Dead Yet: Chinese Envoy

Myanmar, Burma, The Irrawaddy

Yang Houlan, the Chinese ambassador to Burma, speaks during a press conference at his residence in Rangoon on Thursday. (Photo: Sai Zaw / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Beijing intends to push ahead with plans to build a railway linking western Burma with China, but will do so only with the support of the Burmese government and people, according to China’s envoy to Burma.

The stalled railway and road project linking Kyaukphyu in Arakan State to Kunming, the capital of southern China’s Yunnan Province, was envisioned as a major transportation link to facilitate development at an economic zone in Burma’s impoverished west.

It was reported earlier this week that the plan was being scrapped, but China’s envoy to Burma said on Thursday that opposition to the project had been overstated.

China’s state-owned Railways Engineering Corporation and Chinese government officials have met local people along the project area, but tallied no significant resistance to the project as Burma’s government has claimed, according to Yang Houlan, the Chinese ambassador to Burma.

“The Kyaukphyu-Kunming railway project is important not only for the development of areas along the railway but also for the growth of the whole country,” stressed the Chinese ambassador during a press conference at his residence on Thursday. “According to our study, we’ve heard no voices against the project. The only thing we’ve heard was dispute over relocation of houses.

“Most of the locals support the project,” he claimed. “We also want to know if the people really do not support the project because we have seen in newspapers that government officials alone are speaking against the project. However, we respect the decision of the Burmese government and people.”

In 2011, Burma signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with China’s state-owned Railways Engineering Corporation to construct the Kyaukphyu-Kunming railway. However, with no construction yet carried out, the MoU has lapsed and the project would not be continued, according to a Railway Transport Ministry official.

Among the factors working against the project, its projected expenditure of US$20 billion was not enough to get the job done, negative environmental impacts were feared and opposition from local residents had been voiced, the official, who asked for anonymity, told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

“We just made a memorandum of understanding between the two parties. Now, we haven’t made any new agreement to start operations, so what I can say is that we aren’t working on this project,” said the official.

Under the terms of the 2011 deal inked between Burma’s government and the Railways Engineering Corporation, the company was to bear the bulk of the $20 billion price tag. The railway would function on a build-operate-transfer basis, with the Chinese firm handing over the infrastructure to the Burmese government after 20 years.

Civil society groups and activists have pointed out potential negative environmental and social impacts of the project, and protests against it have been staged.

China has long been the dominant foreign investor in Burma, but the flow of Chinese money into the neighboring Southeast Asian nation has slowed in recent years with the installation of President Thein Sein’s nominally civilian government in 2011. Opposition to Chinese projects has increasingly given investors headaches, most notably the decision by Thein Sein to suspend construction of the multi-billion dollar Myitsone hydroelectric dam in September 2011.


8 Responses to Kyaukphyu-Kunming Railway Not Dead Yet: Chinese Envoy

  1. Sanay lin wrote “Most of the locals support the project,” he (Chinese ambassador) claimed. “We also want to know if the people really do not support the project because we have seen in newspapers that government officials alone are speaking against the project. However, we respect the decision of the Burmese government and people.”

    Fox than shwe and puppet thein sein are playing the game between Chinese and innocent Burmese people. Fox than shwe thinks he has a good strategy to manipulate Chinese with making use of innocent Burmese people.
    Fox has a paramilitary killer to stir up Burmese/Chinese clash in anywhere, anytime with the help of psy wirathu who is an unfair opportunistic monk.
    China must know and accept that fox than shwe and puppet are not valid and not legal our government. Those foxes are not our representatives, not our elected government.
    Any kinds of appropriate needed foreign projects/investments should be appreciated, particularly transport ( infrastructures)and power stations for the sake of ordinary Burmese people.

    • Fox than shwe and puppet thein sein is illegitimate government. From Buddhism point of view and DASSK’s correct opinion, Burmese military rob our country governing to make country poorer and poorer. Fox is now still killing own people one by one, step by step systematically with the help of psy, idiot wirathu. We all request China sincerely help our ordinary Burmese people.

  2. It is very possible that pro-Chinese elements instigated the first anti-Muslim incident near Kyaukphru and Thandwe a few years ago. This as we know has gone almost out of control and that might backfire on the Chinese plan to colonise Burma, but Chinese are patient, so they will wait a bit to continue with their 2Y strategy (Yuan and Y-chromosomes) and the 2B tactics(bribery and bullying). China does want to have a naval base and direct access to the Bay of Bengal. It’s part of their string-of-pearls strategy to establish hegemony in Asia.

  3. Why would China want to built rail to nowhere, especially to the place of over populated and poor part of Asia? Oh, I just remember one thing, Japanese tried to built rail way road in second world war across Burma to control South East Asia and Indian ocean. If Burma resist China proposal, China influence of Bay of Bangle and Indian ocean is just a pipe dream. If high way roads and rail way lines are to be built as China wishes, world is going to be quite dangerous. So, will Burmese people let Chinese government play their country as front line battle field for a cold war or show to Chinese government as Burma is for Burmese people and not to Chinese game.

  4. CharlesWilliamMorganJr

    The railway project is essential to open up the region to travel, trade, transport and tourism. Hundreds of thousands of new jobs will be available. Agreements should be completed as quickly as possible and construction should begin immediately.

  5. Why do the Chinese want to go to Kyaukphru? What’s there for them? Do they really want the PLA proxy UWSA to control all of Burma? I am confused.

  6. Classic. Do not like to take ‘NO’ for an answer. Do not mess with the devils. You will lose. We are small, weak,splintered and without a genuine friend as it is. DO NOT MESS. Do not show what you have, they will want it. Not safe to walk around with thong bikini in the male dormitory.

  7. Kyaukphyu-Kunming Railway Not Dead Yet: I believe it; can the whole of Myanmar be far behind before we see Chinese jack boots marching down the boulevards of Naypyidaw to the tune of the Internationale

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