China-Myanmar railway makes significant breakthrough

Construction of the China-Myanmar railway is expected to speed up as a vital segment within Myanmar saw a positive breakthrough during the just-concluded Belt and Road forum in Beijing.

During the opening day of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on Thursday, Li Changjin, chairman of the China Railway Group Company (CRGC), handed over a feasibility report on the Muse-Mandalay Railway project to Myanmar’s Minister for Transport and Communications U Thant Sin Maung.

The railway starts from Muse, a major land port of Myanmar that borders the southwestern Chinese city of Ruili, and stretches southward to Mandalay, the second largest city of the country. The 410 kilometer-long project will connect the Chinese rail network through Ruili and serves as an important part of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

In October 2018, representatives from both countries signed a memorandum of understanding, kicking off the feasibility research on this project. Following the agreement, the China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group (CREEC), a member of CRGC, conducted a geological survey and analysis in Myanmar.

With the completion of the feasibility report, experts say construction of the section is expected to start before long.

Bilateral trade between China and Myanmar has grown fast over the past years. In 2018, the trade volume reached 152.4 U.S. dollars, a year-on-year growth of 13.1 percent. However, the poor transport infrastructure in Myanmar has impeded further growth.

In the border city of Ruili, a large number of products from Myanmar, especially farm produce, are transported daily to China via ports. An Xingjie, who runs a crab business in Myanmar, told CGTN that it usually takes three days for the crustaceans to reach China, which reduces their competitiveness on the market as their freshness is greatly impacted by the extended travel time.

U Thant Sin Maung also said earlier that the logistics costs will be largely reduced if the railway can be constructed as planned.

During the forum, Myanmar’s State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi expressed her support for the Belt and Road Initiative, saying that the joint construction of the initiative will enhance Myanmar-China friendship and cooperation, and bring concrete benefits to the two peoples.

On Thursday, the “Russian-Chinese Railway Dictionary” compiled by the CREEC was also delivered to Alexander Misharin, the first vice president of the Russian Railways Corporation. The CREEC has so far published railway dictionaries in 9 languages: Russian, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Lao, Vietnamese, Thai, and Burmese.

Source: CGTN

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