Janus’ Musings

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Extending China’s reach

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While we in India fight over caste and other issues, China has been busy building a road from Kunming to Bangkok going through Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and then onto Thailand. I guess this will use part of the old WW II road – the Burma road. India has been lobbying (unsuccessfully) to get the Stillwell road going to link India’s East to the Burma road and then onto Kunming. A lot of money was spent on the road:

The Chinese spent $4 billion building the highway from Kunming to the border. One particularly difficult stretch of road required the construction of 430 bridges and 15 tunnels. That portion of the road is also monitored by 168 cameras centrally controlled by highway department officials who watch for elephants — there are an estimated 275 in the area — and other stray animals. The cameras also assist the police in catching suspected criminals.


The net benefit (as always) is trade:

The new roads, as well as upgraded ports along the Mekong River, are changing the diets and spending habits of people on both sides of the border. China is selling fruit and green vegetables that favor temperate climates to its southern neighbors, and is buying tropical fruit, rubber, sugar cane, palm oil and seafood.

“You never used to see apples in the traditional markets,” said Ruth Banomyong, an expert in logistics who teaches at Thammasat University in Bangkok.

China has blasted shallow sections of the Mekong to make it more easily navigable for cargo barges, allowing traders to ship apples, pears and lettuce downriver. The price of apples in Thailand has fallen to the equivalent of about 20 cents apiece from more than a dollar a decade ago. Roses and other cut flowers from China have displaced flowers flown in from the Netherlands, making Valentine’s Day easier on the wallet for Thais. Traders now have the choice of shipping by barge, truck or both.



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Written by janusmusings

March 31, 2008 at 6:59 am

Posted in Asia, china, India

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