Tangible benefits from China’s plan
Belt and Road aims at common development and prosperity
MANILA — Made Island lies in the Bay of Bengal in the Kyaukphyu area of Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
For more than 1,000 years, its 3,000 inhabitants fished and farmed in relative isolation.
Things started to change on the island in 2010, when the China-Myanmar oil and gas pipeline project was launched.
In 2016, when the project was concluded, the island had become the starting point of a 771-kilometerlong crude oil pipeline leading to the border with China, with a designed transmission capacity of 22 million tons per year.
The project not only helped ease the pressing demand for oil in Myanmar and southwestern China but boosted the economic and trade ties between the countries and turned Made Island into a modernized port with up-todate facilities, greatly enhancing local people’s lives with clean running water and a reliable supply of electricity.
Some families have bought diesel-engined farming machines and motorcycles, schools and clinics have been set up and 3G is available for mobile phone users.
“We appreciate the pipeline project very much as it made our lives so conve
We used to store rainfall water for use but now we are using clean running water. This is amazing.” U Hla Kyaw, villager on Made Island, Myanmar
nient. In the past we were able to use power only for four hours a day, but now it’s 24 hours,” a villager named U Hla Kyaw said.
“We used to store rainfall water for use but now we are using clean running water. This is amazing.”
U Hla Kyaw and his fellow villagers are only some of those who have benefited from the projects under the Belt and Road Initiative.
Proposed by China in 2013, the initiative aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road trade routes to seek common development and prosperity.
As of August this year, the number of countries, regions and international organizations that have signed cooperation agreements with China on the joint development of the Belt and Road Initiative has reached 69, covering various areas of transportation, industrial parks, trade zones, financial services, digital cooperation, education and others, according to China’s National Development and Reform Commission.
As of the end of last year, Chinese businesses had built 56 economic and trade cooperation zones in more than 20 countries involved in the initiative, with the total investment exceeding $18.5 billion, generating nearly $1.1 billion in tax revenue and creating nearly 180,000 local jobs.
In Asia, the priority area for implementing the initiative, many projects have been successfully concluded. Thousands of residents have reaped the early benefits, seeing their living environment modernized and jobs and education opportunities accelerated.
The Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone, established in 2008, is the biggest of such zones in Cambodia. More than 100 factories have been opened, employing more than 16,000 people.
The Chinese management side began language training schools to give free lessons to the villagers. Many of those who excel in learning are now working as clerks in offices or as translators, earning much more than those working in the factories.
The Thai-Chinese Rayong Industrial Zone has now attracted 90 Chinese enterprises, with a total investment of $2.5 billion and an industrial output value of $8 billion, employing over 20,000 local people.