Beijing, Nov 10: China has decided to set up yet another port in India's vicinity and the strategic move will certainly make India's foreign-policy decision-makers anxious. Beijing is set to develop a multi-billion-dollar deep sea port in Myanmar's Kyaukpyu town in Rakhine state in western Myanmar along the Bay of Bengal. China and Myanmar signed the deal on Thursday, November 8, which was stuck for years because of financial reasons.
The port at Kyaukpyu is the third the Chinese are influencing close to India, after the Gwadar Port in Pakistan which they have helped building and the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka which they have taken for lease for 99 years. It is also funding a port at Chittagong in Bangladesh, another of India's neighbours.
The Chinese media said the port deal with Myanmar was a significant step under the BRI initiative and informed that China will fund 70 per cent of the project while the responsibility of the remaining part will be taken up locally.
"The signing of the framework agreement marks a significant step for the port project, which has been stalled since 2015, and for the continued implementation of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has come under increased scrutiny because of cases such as the Kyaukpyu port project," a report in the country's Global Times said.
India has long been concerned over China's plans to expand its influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region and eclipse New Delhi's shadow in these areas. Consequently, it has grown closer to India's various neighbours in the region including Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal and Bangladesh while it always had a good relation with Pakistan. India and China are also in a race to gain the upper edge in influencing the Indian Ocean region by befriending various Asian and African states in the region.
However, it seems the Chinese have been playing the game more proactively while India has a catching up to do. However, some of the smaller countries that China has eyed to win over under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have also expressed worry over falling into a debt trap from which they might find it impossible to come out.