The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is not the only major project of note – and cause of concern for India – between China and Pakistan. Beijing and Islamabad have now successfully established a new trade link that encircles India from the south.
On December 1, a train from China’s Kunming – the capital of Yunnan Province – left with 500 tonnes of commodities for the Chinese port city of Guangzhou.
At Guangzhou the goods will be loaded on a ship bound for Karachi in Pakistan.
This new link is significant because of two reasons: one, it is a new China-Pakistan trade route through Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea, and, two, it connects an internal province in China with Pakistan thereby increasing people-to-people and economic exchanges.
This is the route:
As you can see in the map, Kunming is in the south of China. The Yunnan province borders Burma to the west, Laos to the south, and Vietnam to the southeast.
The new route will improve the economy of Yunnan significantly and will have an impact on the entire region around it.
According to Chinese National Data on provinces, Yunnan came in the 23rd place out of 31 provinces as per GDP contributing just about 2.03 per cent to the nation’s GDP. This development will help take that share to a higher level.
Now how will this impact India?
Besides the fact that this trade route cuts logistics cost by as much as 50 per cent, the route practically strengthens China’s Maritime Silk Route with which Beijing aims to expand its trade and thereby reduce India’s influence in South Asia.
The CPEC is fast becoming a reality. Security concerns aside, the route will help China reach the Arabian Sea and markets in Africa directly without having to cross through the Malacca Strait under the watchful eyes of the Indian Navy ships in the Bay of Bengal.
The maritime route is a part of the String of Pearls policy of China. Beijing aims to establish an unchallenged trade and military influence in the entire Indian Ocean Region (IOR). This new route will help Pakistan’s economy and give a fillip to Beijing’s strategic ambitions in the region.
Yunnan’s development also means that there will be more industries and infrastructure right next to Burma. As China progresses, it will be able to further exert its already heavy influence on south and southeast Asian countries, including Bangladesh. And now that a new route has been added to it, New Delhi must worry.