Home India BCIM : Bangladesh China India Myanmar project – an analysis of threats and benefits

BCIM : Bangladesh China India Myanmar project – an analysis of threats and benefits

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Bangladesh China India Myanmar project

China’s interest in Pakistan’s infrastructure through CBEC and other ambitious projects is in the news most of the time for the wrong reasons. The fact that the corridor will cut through Pakistan occupied Kashmir region of Gilgit and Baltistan is not acceptable to India as any activity on India’s sovereign territory by China and Pakistan without the permission of India is downright illegal and immoral. Understandingly India did not become part of the project.

However if we shift our focus towards the north eastern part of India, something very similar to CBEC is happening. Bangladesh, India, China and Myanmar are working together sans Pakistan on the BCIM project. The BCIM is a 2800 Kms long corridor that starts from Kolkata and passes through Bangladesh and Myanmar before ending in the Kunming in China. Once completed the BCIM corridor will be an state of the art network of roads, railways, ports, communication and trade activities.

India will benefit from the infrastructure development as access to north east states will improve drastically. I will also motivate Indian companies to set up operations in north east states.  As security will be one of the important prerequisite in the corridor, tourism will automatically get a huge boast. Overall trade will improve as new markets of south East Asian countries will be easily accessible.

For Bangladesh, which has huge reserves of natural gas, this corridor will help it achieve the target of becoming a key player in gas exports. However, the maximum advantage will be for China as it will get an easy access to Bay of Bengal which being an important port for international trade will diminish the over-dependence of China on the Malacca strait in the south. China will also find it easier to trade goods with BCIM partner countries because of the improved connectivity.

Perceived risks and challenges

China shares territorial disputes on Arunachal Pradesh with India. Giving them unhindered access to the north east might undermine the sovereignty of India. Another issue can be of the dumping of cheap goods in India which might severely impact the business of SMSE and other Indian companies thereby increasing the trade deficit sharply.

North east region till today witnesses a lot of insurgencies. There are many groups with separatist tendencies which are operating in the region. In many cases these are provided with financial and moral support from non-state actors in neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar. The corridor if not complemented with adequate security, will definitely give these groups a reason to be happy as their movement will become easier by this new multi country interconnection. Terrorism, smuggling of goods, transfer of contagious diseases will be some of the threats which India has to focus for their containment.

In conclusion, if executed carefully with appropriate safeguards and policies in place, BCIM will bolster the relationship of India with China and other members. Also, when two economic powers cooperate in a regional development framework, it installs a lot of confidence in the entire region.

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