BRI Current Affairs - 2020

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Myanmar-China sign 33 deals of BRI: Increases China’s ease of access of Indian Ocean

On January 18, 2020, China and Myanmar signed 33 new deals under BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) to implement China-Myanmar Economic Corridor. Also, a concession agreement was signed by he countries to implement the deep seaport project called Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone.

Highlights

The agreements were signed to strengthen the collaboration in infrastructure sector that includes rail connectivity, roads and power interconnection projects. However, the controversial Myitsone dam project that is backed by China was not discussed.

India’s Concerns

The project allows China to have easy of access to Indian Ocean. This is because this route bypasses Strait of Malacca through which China imports most of its oil requirements. Strait of Malacca connects Andaman Sea and South China Sea. This route is on the international boundary and is far from India’s territories as compared to the Myanmar route. With China of Ease of access to Indian Ocean, India has to strengthen its Navy to safeguard its interests in the region. Also, Indian Navy is already witnessing increased Chinese presence in the IOR.

This will aid in China’s plans of String of Pearls.

Myitsone Dam

The project was proposed across Irawaddy river. It was suspended and the Chinese tried to revive it at an estimated cost of 3.6 billion USD. The project is controversial as it is located at a 60-mile distance from the Sagaing fault line.

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China Pakistan: Secure CPEC sea route

In order to secure the CPEC sea route, China and Pakistan have signed a deal to build drones with maximum payload of 480 kg, with top speed of 370 km per hour and can fly up to 20 hours. The drones are called Loong II. These drones are similar to the MQ-9 Reaper drones developed by the US.

Highlights

Pakistan and China have agreed to build 48 drones in the Pakistan soil. The deal is to be implemented by the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and Aviation Industry Corp of China. This deal is considered to be the biggest drone sale of China to any country. Pakistan is already operating Loong I drone. China has sold Loong I drones to other countries as well. It includes Kazakhstan, Indonesia and United Arav Emirates

Global Concerns

China is building its counter drone systems and laser weapons largely as it tries to catch US on UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) Technology. These technologies focus on spoofing techniques that prevent sending false information to UAVs. Together China and Russia are in arms race with the United States. There are concerns raised by number of countries about the trade war, repeated sanctions, imposition of taxes, space race and arms race between the countries.

India Concerns

CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), a major part of China’s BRI project passes through the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir region. India is concerned about the countries strengthening security in the region. With series of attacks and tensions between the India and Pakistan namely Pulwama, Balkot strikes, Abrogation of Article 370, etc, India sees the current move as a tension addend.

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