China plans bullet train to Kolkata via Bangladesh, Myanmar

Kolkata Bullet Train

China is planning to run bullet trains to connect Kunming, the capital and largest city of Yunnan province in southwest China to Kolkata. However, the Chinese diplomat did not reveal the further details of plan and did make any clarification on whether this train would follow the proposed Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor. BCIM corridor is expected to run through Mandalay in Myanmar, Chittagong and Dhaka in Bangladesh terminating in Kolkata.”We are looking forward to bullet trains from Kolkata to Kunming. The whole Asia will be connected. It will only take a few hours to reach Kolkata from Kunming if the rail link becomes a reality,” said Chinese consul general in Kolkata, Ma Zhanwu, on Wednesday, while addressing a conference on connectivity between China and India. 

China and India had border disputes but they come together on many issues like to protect the interest of developing nation or standing for Asian values. So, whenever necessary both the countries cooperate. Perhaps this is the reason people say “only interest of the countries drive the international relations, there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies.” In June this year New Delhi has teamed up with Beijing to formulate a step-by-step proposal to convince rich members of WTO to eliminate their farm subsidies. The joint proposal by India and China said “Any meaningful attempt at reforms in agriculture subsidies must address the asymmetry between the developed members on the one hand and most of the developing members on the other hand in their respective entitlements to AMS (Aggregate Measurement of Support) beyond de minimis and the flexibility to provide high product-specific support.”

The reason behind this proposed corridor could be to ease transportation of goods between these countries. China is the largest trading partner of India with a huge trade deficit tilted in favor of China. The total trade of India with China was $84.4 billion in the fiscal year 2017-18. The total imports from China accounted for $68.06 billion while the exports accounted just $16.34 billion. China is also a major trading partner of Bangladesh and Myanmar, therefore this bullet train could facilitate easy travel for Chinese business executives to India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. The goods export from India to China are expected to grow in future because India is expected to manufacturing hub for countries around the world including China in the coming decades. The availability of cheap labor will push the companies to move to India because labor cost is rising exponentially in China since last few years. Even some Chinese toy companies have moved their manufacturing units to Kolkata and Chinese smartphone companies are opening up manufacturing units across India.

India has also raised repeatedly the issue to widening trade deficit. So, fearing a coercive action, China may wish to move more manufacturing units to India and increase imports. The proposed bullet train, if materialized will definitely improve bilateral relations. However, India will keep its security priorities at top and the government will allow the project only if there is no security threats. 


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