Security threat to the much hyped Kunming to Kolkata 'Silk Road' needs to be addressed to achieve an economic reality of the mega plan.
The ancient 'Silk Road' has been revived by Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation (BCIM), a sub-regional organisation of Asian nations aimed at greater integration of trade and investment between the four countries. The BCIM corridor is an ambitious undertaking that hopes to connect Kunming with Kolkata.
Leading Chinese scholars cautioned that ethnic insurgencies, terrorism, drug trafficking and the accompanying spread of HIV infections, antiques smuggling, as well as cross-border human trafficking, are may derail the mega plan. The 'Silk Road' envisages formation of a thriving economic belt, focusing on cross-border transport, energy and telecommunication networks.
An ancient trade route, 'Silk Road' was formally established during the Han Dynasty of China, which linked the regions of the ancient world in commerce.
A Chinese think-tank have proposed setting up a security mechanism and accelerating a legal dialogue among Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar, in order to turn the proposed BCIM corridor into an economic reality.
Dr Ren Jia, President of the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, told prestigious The Hindu newspaper that a four-country institutional tie-up to address the non-traditional security threats to the BCIM project.
Emphasising the non-traditional threats to security, Dr. Ren pointed out that the crucial issue needs to be addressed, otherwise the establishment of the corridor would be endangered.
Fighting between Myanmar Army and ethnic Kokang rebels, known as the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, based near the Chinese border, pose a threat to the network.
The United Wa State Army, notorious for narcotics trafficking, has virtually a free reign in north-eastern Myanmar, poses a big security problem to the BCIM corridor. Communal violence involving Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims has also flared in Rakhine State.
Institutionalising a four-nation security partnership should become part of the recommendation of the Joint Study Group (JSG), which is expected to meet later this year in India.
Focusing "on strengthening connectivity in the BCIM region," the JSG was formed two years ago following a Sino-Indian initiative during the meeting between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2013. The concept developed in the 1990s came to be known as the 'Kunming Initiative', an economic cooperation within the BCIM region was the brainchild of Bangladeshi economist Professor Rehman Sobhan.