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Belt and Road

China carves path to Indian Ocean with Myanmar rail network

Expanding Belt and Road economic corridor opens new possibilities for trade

Passengers disembark at a train station in Myanmar in July 2018. Railroads can significantly cut shipping times between Myanmar and China.

BANGKOK/YANGON -- When the West cut off aid to Myanmar after the military took control in 2021, China rushed to fill the vacuum under its Belt and Road infrastructure-building initiative. But growing concern over China's so-called debt trap diplomacy threatens the of progress of a jewel of the initiative, the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

Part of the project appears to be full-steam ahead after a rail network section that connects western China to Myanmar begun operating in recent months. For Beijing, the development is seen as crucial because it has the potential to open up a vital route to the Indian Ocean.

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