New Delhi: – After learning a lesson from Pakistan and Sri Lanka, who are getting deeper into the Chinese debt trap, Myanmar has started withdrawing from the China Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) Projects. CMEC is considered to be an important part of the ambitious Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Therefore, Myanmar’s withdrawal from the CMEC is considered to be a major jolt to China. Talks are rife that the Myanmar government took this decision as it has lost faith in China.
China was to invest USD 100 billion in the CMEC projects. Through the CMEC, trade connectivity was to be established between China and Myanmar. Moreover, Myanmar was to handover the Kyaukphyu deep-sea port to China for development under this agreement. It would have made it easy for China to increase its activities in the Bay of Bengal by using this port. But some media has claimed that Myanmar has learnt its lesson by seeing the condition of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and has started reviewing this Chinese investment.
The audit was completed in Myanmar in the month of June. The Auditor-General pointed out to the government the lack of transparency in the Chinese projects. The Auditor-General also expressed a concern that the Chinese debt noose was tightening around the country’s neck. Sri Lanka had to hand over the Hambantota Port to China, as it was not in a position to repay the Chinese debts. Whereas, Pakistan, another country deep into the Chinese debt trap, also seems to have been forced to handover the Gwadar Port to China. Myanmar seemingly has decided to withdraw from the CMEC to avoid putting the country in a similar situation.
China was to build 38 projects in Myanmar under the CMEC. But Myanmar has approved only nine projects and has formed a committee to review the remaining projects. Myanmar has said that instead of handing over these projects to China, Myanmar will invite foreign companies for these projects. Myanmar has already withdrawn from the New Yangon City Project. The contract for this project had been awarded to a Chinese company. But the Myanmar government clarified that foreign companies are being invited for this multibillion-dollar project. Myanmar has also brought the Chinese investment in the Kyaukphyu water project from USD 7.5 billion to USD 1.3 billion.
Meanwhile, there is a talk that the doors have been opened for India with this cancellation of Chinese projects by Myanmar. It had been reported that Indian investors are open to investing in Myanmar. Moreover, Myanmar has a special place in the Indian ‘Act East’ policy. The southeast Asian countries are trying to increase cooperation with India on all levels to save themselves from the Chinese Predatory Economic policies and military hooliganism. Indications are that Myanmar also has decided to tread the same path.