Category Archives: Growth Matters

China’s BRI Dream Could Turn Nightmare As Myanmar Puts ‘Roadblocks’ Before Key Infra Projects

A file picture of Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi (right) with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi. (via Twitter)

Unlike China’s ‘iron brother’ Pakistan, which has rolled out the red carpet for its BRI projects, Southeast Asian nation Myanmar is set to clip the wings of the dragon.

China may be aiming to conquer the world with its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) undermining local sentiments in certain host countries, but the dragon is not invincible it seems. Myanmar is one country where citizens are resisting aggressive and intrusive policies Beijing is known for.

A global infrastructure strategy, BRI reflects President Xi Jinping’s dream of taking China to the ‘numero uno’ spot in the world. It envisages road, rail, and port projects in six economic corridors spread across Southeast Asia, South Asia, Middle East, Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe.

No wonder, the Communist regime has already incorporated the BRI in the country’s Constitution as China plans to invest $1.5 trillion in the next decade.

According to global financial services group Nomura, more than 80 countries are likely to benefit from the BRI project. At the same time, it “will have enormous economic, geopolitical and investment implications for China”, Nomura warns. 

What is then that Myanmar is not happy about? The Southeast Asian nation is not in favor of China having a monopoly in key infrastructure projects in the country. One such example is the Yangon Mega City Project under BRI. In July last year, Naypyitaw had allowed other foreign partners besides China Communication and Construction Company to join the project in order to cut Beijing to size.

The Chinese firm was accused of corruption in as many as 10 Asian and African countries where it is undertaking infrastructure development projects, The Economic Times reported.

The Yangon Mega City Project is part of the China-Myanmar Economic (CMEC) aimed at connecting China’s southwestern Yunnan province with Mandalay, Yangon, and Kyaukphyu in Myanmar.

Another hurdle before China’s BRI comes from the rebel-infested Kachin state where China plans to build the Myitkyina Economic Development Zone (MEDZ) along the World War-II Ledo Road that originates in Assam. As experts have pointed out, China’s ultimate aim may be to bring India under the purview of its BRI.

However, the project to be undertaken in collaboration with the Kachin state government is mired in allegations of land grab and lack of transparency, as reported by The Irrawaddy.

It said ethnic landowners within the project site expressed concerns over “possible land confiscations”. Even local politicians feigned ignorance about the details of the project proposed on 4,700 acres of land.

The report sounded an alarm over China-backed projects in Myanmar, ahead of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to the country this month. 

“It has long been the view in Naypyitaw that Myanmar should be pragmatic in dealing with China,” and goes on to say that “Myanmar should be the one proposing projects to China, rather than the other way around”.

The editorial minces no words in flagging concerns that “the BRI and CMEC projects will give China increased control over Myanmar’s wealth along the economic corridor—such a strategy allows China to exert economic control without ever having to resort to military coercion”.

Such an expression is rooted in the public anger over China-initiated mega projects in Myanmar that seem to have undermined people’s grievances and environmental concerns.

Now, contrast this with what Pakistan has been doing all along vis-à-vis the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, also part of the BRI. In 2018, then-Pakistan PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi hailed this as a “game-changer” for his country. 

Then, Pakistan has allowed fencing of the port city of Gwadar in Balochistan despite objections from the local population who fear it will turn the town into a “Chinese colony”, restricting their free movement. A part of the CPEC, the deep seaport is built and operated by China.

Credit: eurasiantimes.com

Kirin fails to dispel doubts on military-linked Myanmar partner

Myanmar Brewery, a joint venture between Kirin and Myanma Economic Holdings, is the dominant beer company in the southeast Asian country and widely known for its flagship brand, Myanmar Beer.   © Getty Images

Reputational risk casts shadow over beer joint ventures in emerging market

Japanese beverage maker Kirin Holdings on Wednesday announced that its audit of the financial and governance structures of its business partner in Myanmar failed to produce results due to a lack of information from its counterpart.

Kirin commissioned Deloitte Tohmatsu Financial Advisory to conduct an independent assessment of its partner, Myanma Economic Holdings, in June. “Unfortunately, the assessment was inconclusive as a result of Deloitte being unable to access sufficient information required to make a definitive determination,” Kirin said in a statement.

MEHL is one of two big military-linked conglomerates in the Southeast Asian country, along with Myanmar Economic Corporation. It operates a wide range of businesses, ranging from finance, to agriculture, to mining. Kirin has two joint-venture companies with MEHL, Myanmar Brewery and Mandalay Brewery, holding a 51% stake in each.

MEHL has close ties to the military, which has been accused of massacring Muslim minority Rohingyas and destroying their villages. Critics say MEHL offers a conduit for finance that bypasses formal civilian government channels. The purpose of Kirin’s assessment was to determine where proceeds from the joint-venture businesses end up.

A U.N. fact-finding mission published a report in 2019 listing dozens of foreign companies linked to the military-related conglomerates, including Kirin, and warned that the relationship “poses a high risk of contributing to, or being linked to, violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.”

The failure of the investigation to clear up doubts surrounding MEHL could expose Kirin to even greater reputational risk.

“[W]e remain committed to urgently finding a solution that is consistent with our approach,” the drinks maker said in the statement. “A further update on our plans will be provided by the end of April 2021,” it added. Following the announcement, a Kirin representative told Nikkei Asia that the company will seek options for a transparent system to ensure that none of the proceeds from the joint ventures are used for military purposes.

Kirin decided in November to suspend all dividend payments from Myanmar Brewery and Mandalay Brewery to shareholders in Kirin and MEHL “in view of a significant lack of visibility regarding the future business environment.” On Thursday, Kirin stated that the suspension will continue.

“It is wholly unacceptable for any proceeds from our Myanmar joint ventures to be used for military purposes, which is the fundamental condition of the joint-venture agreement,” the Japanese company said. “Kirin takes its responsibilities in Myanmar seriously, and will continue to take the necessary action to ensure its business activities in the country adhere to the highest standards,” it added.

According to a Kirin disclosure, Myanmar Brewery had 32.6 billion yen ($316 million) in sales and 12.9 billion yen in what Kirin calls normalized operating profit for the year ended December 2019. That amounted to 6.8% of the group’s total normalized operating profit.

Myanmar Brewery is the dominant beer maker in Myanmar and is widely known in the country for its flagship Myanmar Beer brand.

The Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business recently reported after meeting with the management of directors of MEHL that at present most of the company’s profit comes from Myanmar Brewery. The Yangon-based civic organization said MEHL’s financial statement for the fiscal year 2018/2019 “appears to show income from operating activities and other income totaling approximately $110 million.”

According to the U.N. mission and the civic group, MEHL has a body called the “patrons group” that oversees the board. It is headed by the Myanmar military’s commander in chief, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing. The same explanation is given in a document obtained by Nikkei Asia from a source close to MEHL.

The conglomerate’s shareholders include a number of military organs, such as “regional commands, divisions, battalions and troops,” apart from individual shareholders, who are all serving or retired military personnel, according to international human rights group Amnesty International.

Credit: asia.nikkei.com

In New Year speech, Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi announces contract to get COVID-19 vaccine from India

Myanmar’s de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi wears a face shield and mask as she attends a flag-raising ceremony for the National League for Democracy (NLD) party to mark the first day of election campaigning in Naypyidaw, Myanmar on Tuesday Photograph:( AFP )

In her New Year’s address to the nation, Myanmar’s state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi has announced that her country will get the COVID-19 vaccine from India and that a contract has been signed regarding it. 

 “The purchase contract for buying the first batch of the vaccines from India has already been signed. As soon as the authorities concerned in India have issued permission to use this vaccine, we have made arrangements for the import of these vaccines into Myanmar,”

Last year the Indian foreign secretary Harsh Shringla and Army Chief MM Naravane had jointly visited the country. The visit saw high-level assurances from India that Myanmar will be a priority when it comes to the vaccine. Shringla also handed over 3000 vials of Remdesivir as a symbol of India‘s commitment to helping Myanmar mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

Myanmar has signed MoU with the Serum Institute of India for Covishield. Over the weekend, India’s drug regulator gave approval for its use.

The state counsellor highlighted that the first priority group to get the vaccine will be medical professionals and medical personnel which will take place in February. 

“There is a lot of competition as all the countries of the world are trying to get this vaccine. However, we believe that the vaccination programme could be carried out all over the country step-by-step,” San Suu Kyi added.

“During the period when the vaccines are still not available, I wish to appeal to the people to abide by the health rules and regulations and give support to our efforts to beat COVID-19. Please be vigilant; please be patient. Please brace yourself by visioning the future. We are all in this together,” she added.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, India reaffirmed its position as the pharma capital of the world by sending medicines like HCQ, paracetamol to more than 150 countries. 

New Delhi also organised training to build capacity. In fact, for the neighbourhood, India has organized two training modules in which about 90 health experts and scientists have participated.

Credit: www.wionews.com

India Myanmar Thailand Trilateral (IMT) Highway: Location, significance, benefits and other details

The India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway starts from India and goes to Thailand via Myanmar. Recently Bangladesh has shown its willingness to join the tripartite highway.

mIMT tripartite Highway

Why in News?

The India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway starts from India and goes to Thailand via Myanmar. It is at the centre of transport diplomacy among ASEAN countries. Recently Bangladesh has shown its willingness to join the tripartite highway. 

About the IMT Trilateral Highway:

  1. The highway’s Imphal-Moreh portion on the Indian side, however, is expected to be completed only by 2023.
  2. It will be linking Moreh (India) -Bagan (Myanmar) -Mae Sot (Thailand)  
  3. This highway is expected to help greatly in the transport connectivity which is almost 3660 km long cross border highway network and is currently under construction, expected to be completed by 2021.
  4. The transnational highway connectivity was envisaged to enable trade from India to the other ASEAN nations.
  5. It was decided to extend the Trilateral Highway to Lao PDR and Cambodia to deepen the India-ASEAN Relations at the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit 2012.

Bangladesh’s desire to join:

  1. Bangladesh is interested in joining the IMT Trilateral Highway to enhance the connectivity with South East Asia. It wants to open new chapters in trans border corridors in the Indo Pacific Region. 
  2. Recently India Bangladesh Virtual Summit was held where the latter expressed its willingness to join the IMT Highway. Sheikh Hasina the Bangladesh PM wished Narendra Modi to help Bangladesh in its efforts.
  3. Also to commemorate the significance of the road from Mujib Nagar to Nodia on Bangladesh-India border during the Liberation War, Bangladesh proposed to name it as “Shadhinota Shorok”.
  4. Bangladesh wishes to join it now as BCIM, Bangladesh China India Myanmar corridor has made little progress. Also, India skipped the Belt and Road Forum which led to exclusion of BCIM Corridor from the list of projects covered by BRI.
  5. Bangladesh also wants to trade with Nepal through India. It wants to use Indian roadways to get its trucks into Nepal.

Benefits of the project

  1. The India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) highways project is aimed at opening the gate to ASEAN through the land. 
  2. The project will boost trade and commerce in the ASEAN–India Free Trade Area, as well as with the rest of Southeast Asia.
  3. Since India has been working towards increasing its engagements with South East Asia under its `Act East Policy’ the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway is one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the region.

India’s efforts under the project:

India has undertaken the construction of two sections of the Trilateral Highway in Myanmar. These are the 120.74 km Kalewa-Yagyi road section and 69 bridges along with the approach road on the 149.70 km Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa (TKK) road section.

India requested for one Land Port without a negative list, starting with Agartala-Akhaura and for transportation of goods from Chattogram port to the North East of India. India also proposed that its trucks use the Feni Bridge, once it is complete.

Way Forward:

Recently India and Bangladesh have expanded their transport and connectivity routes. Sonamura Daudkandi Inland Waterway Route, Feni Bridge from Sabroom to Ramgarh and Haldibari Chilahati rail route are its examples. Leaving India aside now it is upto Thailand and Myanmar to accept Bangladesh to join IMT Highway. 

Credit: www.jagranjosh.com

Indian submarine INS Sindhuvir inducted into Myanmar navy

The kilo class submarine has a displacement of 3000 tonnes, a diving depth of 300 meters and top speed at 20 knots.

INS Sindhuvir commissioned as UMS Minye Theinkhathu in Myanmar Navy (Pic: Myanmar Navy)

Myanmar on Friday (December 25) officially inducted submarine handed over by India in the month of October. INS Sindhuvir was commissioned as UMS Minye Theinkhathu and inducted on the 73rd anniversary of the Myanmar Navy. During the commissioning ceremony, Indian ambassador to Myanmar Saurabh Kumar was also present along with top brass of Myanmar’s Navy.

The kilo class submarine has a displacement of 3000 tonnes, a diving depth of 300 meters and top speed at 20 knots. UMS Minye Theinkhathu is named after an ancient warrior and can operate for 45 days. It is equipped with 40 km range wire-guided torpedoes and 3M-54 Klub anti-ship cruise missiles. Myanmar has built a submarine base for it in a highly classified location.

Kilo class submarines are operated by Indian, Chinese, Russian and Iranian Naval forces and were designed by the Rubin Central Maritime Design Bureau, St Petersburg.

Credit: www.dnaindia.com

Myanmar airline to fly again domestically after 3-month pause

Suu Kyi talks of ‘return to normal’ with eye on international routes

A Myanmar National Airlines’ jet sits on the tarmac at Yangon International Airport: The government will allow the carrier to fly domestically to kick-start the economy. (Photo by Yuichi Nitta)

Myanmar National Airlines will on Wednesday resume domestic flights that had been halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

In early September, the government instructed the state-owned airline to suspend domestic passenger flights but will now allow a resumption to spur economic activity in rural areas of the country. International passenger flights are still banned, with the exception of occasional emergency flights.

Myanmar’s flag carrier began taking reservations on Sunday. Flights between major destinations such as Yangon, the largest city, and Naypyitaw, the capital, can be booked, although there are fewer flights than before the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to Yangon International Airport, a negative test certificate for the virus, obtained within 36 hours of departure, is required to board a plane.

The de facto head of government, State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, said in a televised speech on Friday: “Despite the spread of the disease, we have relaxed some restrictions in the areas which are not included under stay-at-home orders, and in some sectors as we are trying to return to normal quickly.”

“We are working for the resumption of domestic flights in line with health care rules and guidelines,” she said, adding that the government hopes to restart international flights as soon as possible.

According to the World Health Organization, the number of daily cases in Myanmar was a few dozen in August but that figure has risen sharply since September, reaching a record 2,260 in mid-November. The number of daily infections has hovered around 1,300 in December. In all, around 107,000 people have been infected so far.

Since September, travel by air and land has been restricted. Stay-at-home orders, which bar people from going out except for work and shopping, are still in effect in Yangon and other areas with a high number of cases.

Credit: southasianmonitor.net

Report Details Controversial Purchases of Myanmar’s Military

Myanmar Army personnel receive a Thai delegation to the capital Naypyidaw in October 2010.

Some of the army’s purchases could well be in violation of a European arms embargo.

Myanmar’s military continues to attempt to acquire European-made equipment in apparent violation of European Union sanctions and embargoes, according to a new report.

An investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), published on December 8, reveals that the Tatmadaw, as the country’s military is known, has recently sought to procure equipment made by European companies, as well as Airbus planes from Jordan’s air force.

The report by Jared Ferrie and Timothy McLaughlin, based on leaked military budget documents obtained by Justice For Myanmar, a local activist group, notes that many of these attempted purchases have come since the military’s began to escalate its attacks on the Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine State in 2016. The following August, the army launched a massive “clearance operation” in which it torched villages, shot civilians, and drove more than 700,000 people over the border into Bangladesh.

These violent attacks led the European Union to extend a long-standing arms embargo against Myanmar in 2018. The embargo also prohibits the sale of “dual use” products, which have both civilian and military applications, and restricts the export of any equipment for “monitoring communications.”

The OCCPR report cites arms data from EU reports showing that British companies exported equipment to Myanmar in 2017, while Spanish firms did so in 2015. The purchases are described in such broad terms that it is unclear whether or not they violate EU sanctions, but the leaked budget documents reveal further intended purchases that would likely do so.

Separate documents obtained by Justice For Myanmar show that a Myanmar company, run by a British passport-holder and former airline executive, is facilitating the Tatmadaw’s purchase of two Airbus CASA C295 military transport planes from the Jordanian Air Force. Under the terms of the proposed $38.6 million deal, which is set to be closed this year, the Myanmar company – Aero Sofi Co. Ltd. – will also offers training for pilots at an Airbus facility in Spain.

While mostly used for transport, the CASA C295 aircraft can also be outfitted to deploy paratroopers or serve as a gunships. In a statement released to coincide with the OCCPR’s report, Justice Myanmar claimed that the deal “could cause immense harm to ethnic communities and inflame the brutal civil war raging in Arakan, Kachin, and Shan States.”

While Jordan does not have sanctions against Myanmar, the alleged deal offers an interesting insight into how the Tatmadaw veils its military purchases via the use of intermediaries. It also jars with the publicly stated views of Jordon’s Queen Rania, who has publicly denounced the Myanmar military’s “unimaginable acts of violence” in Rakhine State. “Children have been orphaned, women brutalized, family members butchered, villages burned to the ground,” she said during a visit to a refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. “This is something that is unacceptable.”ADVERTISEMENThttps://fe7433690732b97ca6ef93b5d1d111f3.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

In addition to these reported acquisitions, OCCPR details a list of miscellaneous Tatmadaw purchases – everything from ammunition and sewing machines to German-made communications software – that may violate the EU’s ban on the export of “dual use” items. The budget documents cite products made by companies in other parts of the world, including radio equipment from Australia, television broadcast equipment from Canada, and bulldozers from the United States.

The report provides further evidence of the military’s continuing centrality to Myanmar’s political economy, nearly a decade after it relinquished its formal hold on power. During the previous half-century of direct military rule, the Tatmadaw succeeded in insinuating itself into the every sector of the country’s economy, from beer to mining.

A recent United Nations investigation into the Tatmadaw’s two large military-owned conglomerates – Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL) and the Myanmar Economic Corporation – found that they had 120 subsidiaries – and that was just what the authors of the report could confirm.

The military also retains a privileged perch in Myanmar’s political system, care of the constitution that it forced through a bogus referendum in 2008. This ropes off a quarter of the seats in parliament for military-appointed candidates, giving the Tatmadaw a de facto veto over any constitutional amendments, as well as control of three crucial national security-related ministries. As a result, the government led by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy, which won a thundering re-election in polls last month, has been unable to exercise civilian control over the army.

The military’s economic predominance has given it myriad ways of acquiring weapons and other goods through a complex network of intermediaries, which are beholden neither to Myanmar’s civilian government nor the nations that maintain arms embargoes against the country. Another example cited by OCCPR is the case of a helicopter drone acquired from the Austrian firm Schiebel, which the company claims to have sold to an unnamed buyer for the purposes of “monitoring and mapping in mining and road construction.” In 2018, the device later surfaced in videos produced by Myanmar’s navy.

As the authors write, “The Tatmadaw’s broad economic influence, and the difficulty of navigating Myanmar’s bureaucracy, means foreign firms can find themselves dealing with military-linked companies even after conducting due diligence checks.” The report shows how imposing sanctions is easy enough, but enforcing them requires constant vigilance.

Credit: thediplomat.com

India eager to drive a wedge between China, Myanmar

China India Photo:VCG

According media reports, Indian officials, who asked not to be identified, said China is assisting rebel groups that have escalated attacks on its border with Myanmar in recent months. 

New Delhi has suspected that China has assisted and funded insurgent groups in India’s northeastern states, but without any evidence. China, as a responsible great power, respects India’s sovereign and territorial integrity. It spares no effort to maintain regional stability and implements a policy of neutrality in other countries’ internal affairs. 

Indian officials groundlessly said China provided weapons to insurgent groups in India’s northeastern states. As a matter of fact, China does not sell arms to any non-state actor. Rebel groups could acquire the weapons made in China through smuggling. But they could not be bought lawfully from China whatsoever. It is inaccurate for Indian media or politicians to conclude that China supplied weapons to these groups. 

The message from anonymous Indian officials also indicates the unreliability of such sources. If the Indian government had strong proof, it would engage in official negotiations with China and publicly protest against China’s move. Bloomberg reported on Monday that it made calls and sent messages to the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs requesting comment – they went unanswered. As of press time, there has been no official response from the Indian government in regards to these unsubstantiated allegations. 

These anonymous officials also said armed groups in Myanmar, including the United Wa State Army and the Arakan Army, are acting as Beijing’s proxies by supplying weapons and providing hideouts to insurgent groups in India’s northeastern states, according to media reports. As a response, the United Wa State Army has also denied a role in providing any aid or support to Indian rebel groups on China’s behalf.

In recent years, under the Act East Policy, India has promoted its bilateral ties with Myanmar. Against this backdrop, India’s accusations that China is supporting armed groups in Myanmar are meant to drive a wedge between China and Myanmar. However, Naypyidaw has always maintained solid relations with Beijing. Successive governments of Myanmar have highly trusted China. India’s tricks will not impact China-Myanmar relations.

Furthermore, India gave Myanmar a submarine in October. Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla along with country’s army chief General M.M. Naravane paid a visit to Myanmar in the same month. Clearly, New Delhi is striving to intensify its relations with Naypyidaw, particularly with its Act East policy. It wants to use Myanmar to connect with ASEAN and suppress separatist forces in the northeast. This is understandable.

China-Myanmar and India-Myanmar relations can develop without disturbing each other. For Myanmar, stable bilateral relations with China are important, whether in terms of economic development or national stability. India is also a large country, and it is normal for Myanmar to develop friendly relations with both China and India. However, India cannot drive a wedge between China and Myanmar. Nor can it change Myanmar’s foreign policy.

This is because Myanmar is different from India’s neighboring countries. Myanmar is a member of ASEAN and is independent in foreign policies. It is hard for India to heavily influence Myanmar or affect its diplomatic policy.

In addition to spreading rumors about China-Myanmar relations, India has also hyped up normal activities between China and South Asian countries, expressing its concerns about them. For example, India has accused China of arming India’s neighbors, building villages in the “tri-junction between India, Bhutan and China,” and even “invading” Nepal. This shows New Delhi is actually worried about China’s close relationships with India’s neighbors. 

India has always had a victimized mind-set, worrying that its interests will be hurt by China. This is an unhealthy mentality. New Delhi regards South Asia as its own backyard. It does not respect regional countries’ independent rights at all. India has hyped these countries’ relations with China because it worries that they will not respect India anymore. It is not necessary to adopt such a confrontational posture to deal with China. This will neither benefit India, nor China-India relations.

Credit: www.globaltimes.cn

Mitsubishi Corp. wins $663m train car contract in Myanmar

Japanese trading house Mitsubishi Corp. will deliver new train cars that will shorten journeys on the Yangon Circular Railway and between Yangon and Mandalay. (Photo courtesy of the company)

Japan firm to deliver 246 cars for Yangon Circular and Mandalay routes

Mitsubishi Corp. has signed two contracts with Myanmar’s state-run railway, Myanma Railways, to deliver new rolling stock, the Japanese trading house said Tuesday.

The total cost of the two projects is approximately 69 billion yen ($663 million), which will be covered by an international yen loan agreement between the governments of Japan and Myanmar. The projects are part of the Japanese government’s railway infrastructure export drive.

Mitsubishi will deliver 66 cars for the Yangon Circular Railway, which runs in a loop in Myanmar’s largest city, and 180 cars for the Yangon-Mandalay Railway, which connects Yangon, Naypyitaw and Mandalay.

The new cars will shorten travel time on the 46-km Yangon Circular Railway from about 170 minutes to 110 minutes, and on the 620-km Yangon-Mandalay Railway from about 15 hours to around eight hours.

Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles, Spain’s leading rail car manufacturer, better known as CAF, will manufacture the train cars using Japanese equipment for part of its electrical systems and deliver the cars from 2023 to 2025.

Myanmar has been overhauling its national rail system, neglected during decades of military rule, starting with two major arteries pivotal to economic revitalization.

Work started in February 2018 to upgrade the Yangon Circular Railway. In addition to cutting travel time, the overhaul aims to boost service frequency by 40%.

The project has fueled development along the line in anticipation of a jump in commuters.

The redevelopment will extend to government-owned tracts surrounding Yangon Central Railway Station, the main stop on the loop. Along with a new domed transport hub next to the existing station, the site will house high-rise office buildings and shopping spaces. 

The country also envisions establishing urban subcenters along the Yangon Circular Railway. 

Meanwhile the improvement of the 60-year-old line between Yangon and Mandalay, the country’s second-largest city, would be a boon to the northern Mandalay region, home to the country’s main producers of agricultural products and natural resources. The line also runs through Myanmar’s capital, Naypyitaw.

Credit: asia.nikkei.com

India to handover Kilo class attack submarine to Myanmar

Move in line with vision that aspires to guarantee security for all maritime partners, says MEA

India will hand over INS Sindhuvir, a Kilo class submarine to the Myanmar Navy, the Ministry of External Affairs announced on Thursday. Addressing the weekly press interaction, official spokesperson of MEA Anurag Srivastava said this will be the first submarine of the Southeast Asian country and the move is in line with the overall Indian vision that aspires to guarantee security for all maritime partners.

“In this context, India will be delivering a Kilo class submarine INS Sindhuvir to the Myanmar Navy. We understand that this will be the first submarine of the Myanmar Navy. This is in accordance with our vision of SAGAR — Security and Growth for All in the Region, and also in line with our commitment to build capacities and self-reliance in all our neighbouring countries,” said Mr. Srivastava to a question.

The announcement came days after Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Mukund Naravane visited Myanmar and held talks with State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and Commander in Chief of Defence Services Senior General Min Aung Hlaing. The submarine, purchased from the Soviet Union in the 1980s, has undergone modernisation at the Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) in Vizag.

It belongs to a class of diesel-electric attack submarines built by the Soviet Union during the Cold War years.

The submarine will be the first in a fleet that Myanmar wishes to build and is likely to be used initially for training and orientation purposes for its Navy personnel. Last year, India supplied Myanmar ‘Shyena’ advanced light torpedoes as part of a defence deal. The October 4-5 visit of Mr. Shringla and General Naravane was also noteworthy as Myanmar and Bangladesh have recently engaged in a war of words over heightened military tension near the border at Chittagong regarding the Rohingya issue.

India’s military outreach to Myanmar is important as it comes in the backdrop of the ongoing military tension along the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh between India and China, a leading industrial and business partner of the Southeast Asian state.

Credit: www.thehindu.com