China and Myanmar are moving ahead with a China-backed deep-sea port project in Kyauk Phyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ) , 250 miles northwest of Yangon.
The framework agreement was signed by Myanmar's Deputy Minister of Planning and Finance and Chairperson of the Management Committee of the Kyaukphyu SEZ U Set Aung and President of CITIC Group Chang Zhenming, stated Chinese state media.
This is the third port in India’s vicinity. China is also developing deepwater strategic Gwadar port in Pakistan in the Arabian Sea which faces the Mumbai coast. It has also acquired Sri Lanka's Hambantota port on debt swap in the Indian Ocean. It is also funding the development of the Chittagong port in Bangladesh.
India sees Chinese developing ports in the neighbourhood a strategy to encircle it in the Indian Ocean.
Though the total China-Myanmar investment into the Kyaukpyu project has been scaled down to $1.3 billion (initial phase) from the earlier $7 billion figure, the port will be of great strategic significance to China as it navigates its way into the Bay of Bengal – and the Indian Ocean -- considered within New Delhi’s range of influence, according to a report in Hindustan Times.
According to a report in the Global Times, China will fund 70 per cent of the project and the remaining 30 per cent will be taken up by Myanmar.
"The signing of the framework agreement marks a significant step for the port project, which has been stalled since 2015, and for the continued implementation of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has come under increased scrutiny because of cases such as the Kyaukpyu port project," the report said.
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