Book takes a good look at China’s Belt Road Initiative and Myanmar’s place in it

24 November 2018
Book takes a good look at China’s Belt Road Initiative and Myanmar’s place in it
(File) A worker at Shwe Gas terminal in Kyauk Phyu, Rakhine state in May, 2013. Photo: Mizzima

There are few Western writers who have managed to nail down the important components of China’s ambitious “Belt Road Initiative”.

Andre Wheeler is one of them. Mr Wheeler is a businessman and PhD student whose study is focused on China’s grand scheme to turn the ancient Silk Road into a modern-day land, sea and air reality.

His book launched this week entitled, “China’s Belt Road Initiative: The Challenge For The Middle Kingdom Through A New Logistics Paradigm” takes a good hard look at the initiative, including a case study of the China-Myanmar corridor.

As the promotion for the book makes clear, change is inevitable in the modern global economy, with technological breakthroughs announced almost daily. On a fundamental basis, organizations face the challenges of managing change for a sustainable outcome or simply run the risk of losing relevance

One such change is the implementation of the Chinese One Belt One Road (BRI). The focus on infrastructure and trade strategy improves global market connectivity, and in turn will shape trade routes. The BRI is based on China’s push for trade and energy security. It is increasingly disrupting the nature of business relationships within Eurasia, prompting the relocation of businesses to improve cost and value advantages.

Of particular interest is a new transport modal mix since shipping by sea is being challenged by improved road and rail networks. A chapter in the book is dedicated to how businesses must adjust logistical practice to meet these changes, or lose key markets. In particular, it looks at the changing nature of intermodal logistics as the pairing of ports with rail/road networks, making a new freight mix possible.

Counter initiatives, such as India/Japan’s ‘Freedom Corridor’ add to options for deciding the most effective and efficient logistics modality. These counter inititaives are seen to be aimed at disrupting China’s growing political and economic influence in the Eurasion region, in particular Asia. It has been said before that whoever controls the ‘Middle Kingdom’ controls the global economy.

All of these initiatives are building major connectivity infrastructure, including new inland rail corridors, which connect inland markets and new maritime ports. With increasing rail freight volumes between China and Europe, we see that the BRI is already impacting shipping lines, which are suffering significant losses, both in revenue and volume.

Due to the size, fluidity and complexity of the BRI, this cannot fully address it. Instead, it uses the recently announced China/Myanmar corridor as a case study to showcase the issues around the BRI.

For example, this corridor is seen as a response to the geo-political issues encountered with India along the original Bangladesh/China/India/Myanmar Corridor. It also encapsulates the issues found along the BRI, such as security, geopolitical and socioeconomic tensions.

This book, while limited in scope, should invite wider research into the other land corridors of the BRI and add to a greater understanding of the initiative and its impact on trade and foreign policy in the region.

The book can be found at: