US, China dueling for power on the Mekong

When China announced in early August a new US$6 million for new development projects in Myanmar, the sum was trifling in Beijing’s wider $1 trillion global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

China’s Foreign Ministry said the funds will be used for animal vaccine projects, agricultural development, science, disaster prevention and, surprisingly given the absence of foreign visitors amid a raging Covid-19 outbreak and political crisis, tourism.

But while the funds are a rounding error in the financial context of the two sides’ wider relationship, replete with multi-billion dollar plans for rail, road and port development, they represent a potential game-changer for Mekong nations including Myanmar.

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