The country is likely to see an economic rise due to abundant low-cost labour compared to other countries in the region. Myanmar has suffered from international sanctions for years, as well as severe import restrictions imposed by the former junta. Many economists say there is likely to be huge economic growth in Myanmar after joining China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Mohamad Zreik specially for the Myanmar Times.
The Belt and Road initiative or the New Silk Road is a modern initiative put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, which aims to expand China’s transport and communication network and connect China with many of the world’s economies under the umbrella of “joint profit”. This initiative is cross-border and not limited to the Asian region, reaching many geographically distant countries. Of course, neighbours have the largest share of the projects raised by this initiative. It is logical that the nearest countries are the first beneficiaries of such a huge project.
When dealing with the special relationship between the Chinese and Myanmar and the political and economic relations that bring them together, more emphasis should be placed on the economy. Chinese investor plays a key role in supporting Myanmar’s economy.
Today, many Chinese companies in Myanmar are investing in natural resources and introducing advanced technology to the country. For its part, the Chinese government attaches great importance to the promotion of investment in Myanmar because of the great benefit to China, based on the economic studies that push the Chinese government to move towards this neighbouring country.
China is an important political and economic player in Myanmar, through China’s projects to build bridges, roads, ports and many other vital projects, which serve the Belt and Road Initiative. But the truth is, if China had not been this huge economic giant, the relationship between the two countries would not have been so remarkable.
Today, China, through projects in Myanmar such as the Belt and Road Initiative, creates many job opportunities for the people of Myanmar and makes the government of Myanmar welcome China in its territory.
But, of course, if it was not mutually beneficial, China would not invest in this country. The strategic importance of Myanmar on the Chinese investment map makes this bilateral relationship a priority for the Chinese government.
Myanmar is an important country not only because of its position alongside two Asian powers, China and India, but also because of its richness of natural resources, which increases its importance locally and regionally. The huge reserves of natural gas and minerals can revive and strengthen Myanmar’s economy if it is linked to viable economic and security policies. Myanmar also has sufficient manpower and vast land to implement projects that will develop the economy and its infrastructure.
The Belt and Road Initiative will increase economic growth in Myanmar. The two neighbouring countries are working hard to make this initiative a success in order to ensure a win-win situation. The official authorities in Myanmar are interested in ensuring the success of this initiative and the economic benefit of it and the pursuit of the development of the country, through the development of infrastructure. Myanmar, located along the tracks of the economic belt and the maritime Silk Road, is a key partner of China under the Belt and Road Initiative.
Mohamad Zreik is a PhD candidate at the School of Politics and International Studies (SPIS), Central China Normal University, Wuhan, Hubei, China. His research focuses on the One Belt One Road initiative and the Chinese presence in the iddle East, especially in Lebanon.