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China starts renovating historic highway to India

Source: PTI
Last updated on: April 11, 2005 09:48 IST
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In a bid to further boost booming Sino-Indian trade, China has started renovation of the historic Stilwell Road connecting its Yunnan province to Myanmar and India, the state media reported on Monday.

Early surveys have been made and a detailed renovation plan is expected to be finalised by the end of this month, China Daily reported.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is currently in New Delhi for high-level talks with the Indian leadership.

After the reopening of the road, built during World War II, the distance from Baoshan, a border city in Yunnan, via Myitkyina in
Myanmar, to Ledo in India will be a touch above 500 km, the daily quoted sources in the Yunnan provincial government as saying.

And the distance between Kunming, capital of Yunnan, and Ledo, a railway hub in northeastern India, will be 1,220 km.

At present, trade between Yunnan and India has to follow a convoluted route from Kunming to Zhanjiang port in Guangdong province then to be loaded onto ships bound for the Malacca Straits and India - a total of 6,000 km.

Stilwell Road, built to outflank the marauding Japanese and establish a land supply route to China, was originally called 'Ledo Road', as it started in Ledo. It was later renamed after US General Joseph Stilwell
(1883-1946), Chief of Staff of the Allied Forces.

The road was constructed under the direct supervision of General Stilwell in 1942, connecting some sections of the old 'Burma Road', stretching from Kunming.

Some 60 km of the road lies in India, 1,000 km in Myanmar and more than 600 km in China. However, parts of the road have virtually disappeared due to a lack of maintenance.

"It has been reported that the Indian government is also looking to reopen the route as an international highway linking the country to Myanmar and China," the report said.

India and China have emerged as two of the world's largest economies and have quickly expanded bilateral economic relations in recent years.

Trade between India and China has galloped from a few hundred million US dollars in the late 1990s, to a record $ 13.6 billion last year.

China has become India's second largest trading partner.

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