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Analysis: Muse-Mandalay Railway Agreement with China Raises Debt, Conflict Fears (The Irrawaddy)

October 31, 2018

By Nan Lwin 

From the article:

YANGON—Even as Laos’s planned railway connecting southern China with northeast Thailand comes under scrutiny due to its huge cost and uncertain benefits, Naypyitaw has agreed to conduct a feasibility study on a high-speed railway project that would link two economic centers in Myanmar as part of Beijing’s grand infrastructure plan for the region.

Critics of the rail project warn that it could saddle Myanmar with unsustainable debts, and point out that the route passes through conflict zones. By approving the feasibility study despite these concerns, the government has again signaled its willingness to cooperate with China in its bid for economic supremacy in the region.

Two state-owned companies, China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group (China Railway Group Ltd) and Myanmar Railways signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) last week to begin studying a proposed railway line from Muse, in northern Shan State, to Mandalay. 

...

According to a March 2018 report by the Washington-based Center for Global Development, China is putting many countries involved in the BRI at financial risk through a series of “aid” activities and huge amounts of lending. 

Read the full article here

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Senior Fellow, Director of the US Development Policy Initiative