Along the Burma Road December 2011
Yunnan was one of the worst-hit areas during World War II, almost completely destroyed by Japanese bombing. By today the province has been rebuilt, however, and the old Burma Road – that icon of the war, used to transport support material for the Allies into China – has been upgraded into a six-lane highway. Once it crosses the Chinese border, however, this potentially lucrative land link between China and India falls into disrepair, despite years of plans to upgrade it. On the Indian side, the Ledo Road (or Stilwell Road, after an American general), links up to the Burma Road, and is indeed motorable. But it too falls into disrepair on the Burma side.
Still, there is some movement on this front. Beijing recently hosted new talks on economic cooperation with India, and most analysts believe that there is immense pressure from industry to take the momentum forward. Once the entire road is operational, it will reduce transportation costs between China and India by an estimated 30 percent. Of course, Burma constitutes the vast majority of the road’s 1150 km, and thus remains the primary obstacle in this process, as can be seen in several of the accompanying photographs. Nonetheless, with a new government in power in Naypyidaw, recent reports have suggested that construction may indeed be going forward on this historic thoroughfare.
Romila Thapar addresses invitees at the
Southasian relaunch of Himal Southasian,
IIC, New Delhi, January 2013.
China, Southasia and India
On May 19 2013, newly appointed Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in New Delhi for a series of meetings with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The visit is Keqiang's first outside of China since assuming power in March.
From our archive:
Purna Basnet discusses Chinese engagement in Nepal vis-a-vis security issues in Tibet and broader geo-strategic plans in Southasia (April 2011).
Fatima Chowdury relates the story of Calcutta's Indian Chinese community through the lens of political and economic upheavals in Southasia and China (May 2009).
Simon Long notes the importance of the Sino-Indian relationship for the rest of Southasia (September 2006).
J.N Dixit ruminates on the strategic concerns of the 'Middle Kingdom' in the wake of India's 1998 nuclear tests (June 1998).