In Yunnan’s provincial capital of Kunming – a flying distance of a little over two hours from Kolkata – Chinese investors are gearing up to join India’s “Make-in-India” campaign by planning to set up plants and factories in West Bengal. In a conversation with The Hindu, Kong Can, Deputy Director General of Yunnan Development Research Center (YDRC) – a Kunming based think tank – said that businesses in Yunnan were ready to invest around $1 billion to make electric-bikes in West Bengal. “We wish to become partners in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign by investing in this project,” he said.
Mr. Kong’s proposal is logical. Chinese enterprises have acquired enormous overcapacity in manufacturing, which they wish to offload abroad, with India as a prime destination. Besides, China, under President Xi Jinping’s watch, is vigorously pursuing, what is called the Going Global Strategy, which strongly encourages local companies to look for opportunities overseas. Mr. Kong acknowledged that India’s increasingly adverse trade balance with China is dampening commerce. Consequently, he proposed that an industrial park in Yunnan could be established that focused on joint ventures in the pharmaceutical industry — India’s known strength globally.
Mr. Kong explained that the YDRC was part of the Kunming 2 Kolkata (K2K) forum, with the Kolkata based Center for Studies in International Relations and Development (CSIRD) as its Indian partner.
The K2K forum has pioneered the organisation of the Kolkata to Kunming car rally in 2013 — an initiative that validated the feasibility of the land corridor from Kolkata to Kunming, which also passed through Bangladesh and Myanmar. “The rally galvanised the concept of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor, which is now a track-1 initiative involving the four governments,” says Binoda Kumar Mishra, the director of CSIRD. Mr. Mishra said that the organisation of a second car rally, probably in November, was now in the pipeline, which would be another marker to gauge road conditions of the corridor.
Earlier, in a conversation with The Hindu, Jin Cheng, Deputy Director-General of International Regional Cooperation Office of Yunnan, said that of the 2800 kilometre corridor, only two segments of around 200 kilometers each – Silchar to Imphal in India, and Kalewa to Monywa in Myanmar – were in need of urgent repair. The rest of the passage was in fairly good condition.
Kolkata in India, Dhaka and Sylhet in Bangladesh, Mandalay in Myanmar, and Kunming, capital of China’s Yunnan province are the four pillars of the BCIM economic corridor. From Kolkata, the central artery of the corridor would head towards Benapole, a border crossing town in Bangladesh. After passing through Dhaka and Sylhet, it would re-enter the Indian territory near Silchar in Assam. The rest of the passage will further be connected with Imphal, and then pass through the India-built Tamu-Kalewa friendship road in Myanmar, before entering Ruili in China.
A study by Liu Jinxin, Dean of the China-Kunming Opening Asia Transportation and Logistics Research Institute, has estimated that nearly 700 million people would be impacted by the BCIM economic corridor. By 2020, trade in BCIM area was likely to surge to $500 billion. The GDP was expected to sky-rocket to $2.4 trillion, provided $ 324.3 billion are invested in setting up quality infrastructure along the route.
The study visualises that for the BCIM to flourish, five international harbours, including Chittagong in Bangladesh, Fengcheng in China along with Sittwe and Kyaukphyu in Myanmar would have to be developed. These should be coupled with 27 land-ports, 12 industrial parks, and several agriculture zones to ensure food security for millions in South, Southeast Asia and China.
2015 Kashmir Despatch