Vehicles on the Honghe (Red River) Bridge in Yunnan province on, a section of the Yuanyu highway connecting Kunming and Bangkok, June 5. Various highways and railways are being built to connect southern China with Southeast Asian countries. (Photo/Xinhua)
Construction of a railway connecting Kyaukpyu in Myanmar and Kunming in China was cancelled last Friday due to public opposition, the Myanmar Ministry of Rail Transportation told Eleven Media Group based in Yangon on July 20.
China signed a memorandum with Myanmar in April 2011 to build the Kyaukpyu-Kunming railway. The planned line would pass through Rakhine state, Magway region, Mandalay region and Shan state before crossing the border into Yunnan province in southwestern China. The line has significant strategic importance to China as a alternative to the Strait of Malacca as a route to the Middle East.
Under the agreement, China earmarked about US$20 billion for the railway's construction and would have the right to manage and operate the railway for 50 years.
The project has drawn domestic opposition from the public as well as civic organizations however and construction, which China Railway Engineering Corporation expected to take three years, has never got underway.
Myint Wai, director of Myanmar's Ministry of Rail Transportation, said China has not renewed the Kyaukpyu-Kunming railway project and let the memorandum of understanding on the project expire. A source from China Railway Engineering Corporation told China's Global Times that Beijing will fully respect the public opinion from Myanmar regarding construction of the railway, though no official response from the Chinese government has been reported.