Tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits from China’s plan

Belt and Road aims at com­mon de­vel­op­ment and pros­per­ity

China Daily - - WORLD -

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.

Net­works

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.

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