SANJAY PULIPAKA and KRISHNAN SRINIVASAN
The natural gas pipeline that connects China to Bay of Bengal through Myanmar has been operationalised very recently. This is a historic development, and fulfills a cherished Chinese ambition to connect the People’s Republic to the Indian Ocean as part of its two-ocean strategy… There are lessons in these developments for India as well.
Media reports of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the democratic uprising in Myanmar have obscured a more important development. The natural gas pipeline that connects China to Bay of Bengal through Myanmar has been operationalized very recently. This is a historic development, and fulfills a cherished Chinese ambition to connect the People’s Republic to the Indian Ocean as part of its twoocean strategy. The Indian Ocean is critical for China, because 80 per cent of its oil imports traverse the Malacca Straits. Therefore, China is establishing a network of relationships with Indian Ocean littoral states while developing secure and diverse energy routes.
The new pipeline cannot completely eliminate the Malacca Straits as a significant transit zone, but it is a part of China’s overall strategy to reduce excessive dependence on this route. The pipeline starts at Kyaukpyu in Myanmar and terminates in Kunming in China and its completion in just three years indicates the policy consistency and determination of Beijing to ensure that its economic momentum continues to receive necessary energy resources. China is also building an oil pipeline alongside the existing gas pipeline which will begin operations next year. These two pipelines will not only carry energy resources from the gas fields in the Bay of Bengal but also transport oil from the Middle East which can be off-loaded at Kyaukpyu and conveyed to Kunming. more…