Ever since the trade tension started between the US and China and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had an informal meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan in China last month, the Chinese media and experts have been stressing on India-China cooperation a lot as a counter to the United States' growing protectionism.
China's Global Times came up with a piece on Thursday, May 10, titled 'BCIM offers pathway for broader China-India energy cooperation' whereby it has been argued that both India and China, which are starved of natural gas energy, can enhance their economic cooperation under the framework of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor.
It said in 2017, natural gas pipelines between China and Myanmar played a key role in meeting the former's natural gas demand by supplying 450 million cubic metres of gas to Yunnan province in Southwest China. According to it, Myanmar can play a crucial role in promoting India-China economic ties.
"There is a huge imbalance between the western and eastern sides of India. Compared with the western region, the eastern side has a lot to do to catch up in terms of infrastructure, industrialization and the business environment," the report said, adding: "Currently, India relies heavily on the Gulf Bay for oil and gas resources. The major ports for oil and gas shipments are all located on the west coast. The east coast does not have major ports for these resources, so pipelines have been built to transfer the imported resources from the west coast to the east."
The Global Times article said India has concentrated on the development of its eastern part in recent years and this has been reflected in the growing energy demand in that region.
"The Gas Authority of India is expected to complete phase two of the Jagdishpur-Haldia and Bokaro-Dhamra natural gas pipeline at the end of 2018, connecting eastern India with the national gas grid. The first natural gas terminal built by the Indian Oil Corp in the Kamarajar port in Ennore is likely to start operating this September," it said.
The piece has said that the eastern part of India requires more investment to boost its infrastructure and states like West Bengal and Kolkata have set up links with Chinese provinces for more FDIs. It said India's quest for oil and natural gas can be met by Myanmar more easily than Qatar and Indonesia because of shorter geographical distance. It also suggested two ways to develop gas pipelines from Myanmar to India: either through its northeast and Bangladesh or through sea route.
"Sino-Indian energy cooperation began long ago, and some of it has included Myanmar. For instance, the Shwe Gas Project, which includes building an offshore natural gas field at the Bay of Bengal in Myanmar, was supported by China, Myanmar and India. The China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau also took part in natural gas pipeline construction in India," the Global Times article said.
It said India and China would require more cooperation with Myanmar and Bangladesh to meet their energy demand and even advised that China could provide a platform to India to negotiate construction of pipeline with Bangladesh. It also said more direct investment from China can be used for boosting infrastructure, including pipelines in eastern India.
The article also had words for those who are against the Myanmar pipeline. It said: "Some people in India believe their country won't get the same kind of returns as China from the Myanmar natural gas project, despite the amount invested by the Indian state and private companies. This misunderstanding should be addressed, or it will hinder regional energy cooperation."