China keen to revive ancient ‘Tea Horse Road’

  • Aloke Tikku, Hindustan Times, Beijing
  • Updated: Oct 24, 2013 01:50 IST

Pushing ahead with the road to link China’s Yunnan province with Bangladesh — and later possibly Kolkata — experts from four countries including India will meet this December for the first time to study the ancient road link often referred to as the Tea Horse Road.

India initially appeared to be lukewarm to the idea of a reviving the ancient road link that connected Jessore in Bangladesh to Erhai Lake Dali in China’s Yunnan province due to its not-so-successful experience in similar projects.

China, however, is determined and had arrived at an understanding with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Delhi in May this year.

In a joint statement issued after Singh’s meetings on Wednesday, the two sides recalled it had been earlier decided to establish a study group on the BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar) Economic Corridor.

Welcoming a recent visit of the Chinese delegation as a “positive step”, the joint statement noted that the first meeting of the joint study group would be held in December to study the specific programmes on building economic corridor.

A Chinese foreign ministry official said the meeting would be held in Kunming in Yunnan provide.

Preparing for the PM’s visit, China had recently reached out to Bangladesh to get Dhaka on board for the multi-billion dollar project linking South Asia and East Asia.

Government officials said they weren’t averse to the idea that had great significance because it would be able to link South Asia with East Asia and would be conducive to regional economic activity.

The Chinese foreign ministry – that has already discussed the project with Myanmar too – believes the corridor would strengthen mutual investment, trade and infrastructure and later, construction of a rail link.

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