In a bid to strengthen ties between India and Burma (also known as Myanmar), an international bus service will be launched Nov. 10. The move will give a push to India’s Look East policy, which is a major strategic move to counter increasing Chinese influence in the region.
Reported to be the first international bus service from Burma, it will operate between Myeik Township in Tanintharyi Division in Burma and Imphal in Manipur, India, according to Mizzima, a Burmese newspaper.
The service will be operated by the Yangon Air Bus Association. The service will run four times per week and includes four minibuses with a capacity of 36 passengers each.
“We discussed ways to help each other with the Indian Embassy and promote friendship between the two countries. Our concern here is not business,” U Thar Naing, the chairman of Yangon Air Bus Association told Mizzima.
Responding to a question in the Lower House of India’s Parliament about opening land routes to Burma, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said the “government attaches high priority to promoting connectivity between India and South East Asia.”
India and China are strategic competitors in Southeast Asia. Within this context India’s Look East policy aims to forge better relationships with southeast Asian countries through better economic and strategic relations.
Other plans Indian authorities have to increase open land routes with Burma are the Trilateral Highway, the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Transport project, and the Rhi Tiddim Road project.
“These projects would enhance cross-border trade, tourism, people-to-people contacts, and economic development of areas on both sides of the border,” according to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.
India shares more than a 1,000 miles of border with Burma and sees the region as a strategic entry into Southeast Asia and the South China Sea.