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How China’s belt and road allows Myanmar to leapfrog poverty

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A plethora of articles have discussed the risks associated with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The discussion is often portrayed within a “winners versus losers” framework, focusing on the divisive nature of the project.

On Myanmar, for example, commentary has become increasingly vitriolic about security and sovereignty threats. This is evident in the concerns raised by the recently announced China-Myanmar economic corridor.

Criticism includes claims that China is deliberately destabilising the northern parts of the country marred by civil unrest. More cynically, some say Beijing is manipulating the Rohingya crisis to secure the Kyauk Phyu special economic zone precinct. Similar comments have been made about North Korea, with claims that China is trying to derail any progress in talks there; but these claims unravel when evidence is sought.

Such claims also undermine any meaningful debate around the risks associated with allowing China to build and participate in essential infrastructure development within Myanmar and other belt and road participants. And it could be argued that the initiative should be viewed as a win-win.

Watch: Belt and Road Summit highlights

Bumps along the belt and road point to a role for Hong Kong

Infrastructure projects bring sustainable growth. The belt and road incorporates important objectives to ensure the infrastructure projects are sustainable. It has integrated development plans, just as nations do, but on a larger scale. This was clearly articulated in the 2017 Belt and Road summit.

Much of the scepticism is driven by views of sustainable development in general. Fundamentally, the West adopts a more mercantilist approach, and measures........

© South China Morning Post