Stimson in the News

Slower, smaller, cheaper: the reality of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor by Yun Sun

By Yun Sun
in Program

Despite perceptions that it will bring a rush of Chinese financing for massive infrastructure projects, implementation of the China Myanmar Economic Corridor has so far been relatively cautious.


MUCH HAS been said and written about the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor since it was formally proposed by China in November 2017 as part of its global Belt and Road Initiative. Despite gaining significant international attention – and generating some uneasiness within Myanmar – the actual approval and implementation of CMEC projects has been incremental, and at a speed far less impressive than the narrative. As a result of friction between China’s massive ambition and Myanmar’s moderate capability, the CMEC is unlikely to end up looking the way many people imagine.

The CMEC is the second economic corridor China has embarked on with a single state under BRI, after the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and this reflects its strategic importance in Beijing’s plans. The basic design of CMEC is an upside-down “Y” shape that connects China’s Yunnan Province with Mandalay in central Myanmar, and then stretches southeast down to Yangon and southwest to Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

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