China on Monday denied that it has dropped the BCIM economic corridor from its multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as the project made little progress in view of the differences between India and China over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar-Economic Corridor (BCIM) which has been previously mentioned as part of the BRI when it was launched in 2013, did not figure in the list of 35 corridors mentioned during the 2nd Belt and Road Forum (BRF) held here in April.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang told media briefing here on Monday that “the BCIM has not been abandoned. It is very much on board.”
In fact, the 13th meeting of BCIM forum to discuss the progress is being held on the sidelines of China, South Asia Business Forum currently being held in Yunnan province, he said.
Discussions are still going on to build the BCIM corridor, Geng said.
A joint statement issued at the end of the BRF mentioned only the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network, including Nepal-China cross-border railway and China-Myanmar economic corridor in the list from the South Asian region.
The BCIM was conspicuously absent from the list, setting off speculation that China has dropped it. Citing sovereignty concerns, India, for the second time, had not participated in the BRF, as CPEC-a flagship of the BRI-passes through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
The 2800-km BCIM corridor proposes to link Kunming in China’s Yunnan province with Kolkata, passing through nodes such as Mandalay in Myanmar and Dhaka in Bangladesh before heading to Kolkata.