Accession Number:



Paved with Good Intentions? China's Regional Road and Rail Connections

Descriptive Note:

Special assessment rept.

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



China s road and rail corridor RRC development with Southeast Asia is motivated primarily by domestic development priorities and efforts to improve security in its troubled borderlands as well as in its near abroad. Chinas involvement in RRC projects is generally taken as evidence that China wants to work with the region rather than impose its will on it. China requires international funding and technical expertise to develop RRCs. Hence, neighbors may have additional confidence that Chinas willingness or ability to threaten force is constrained. Divergent national interests, geopolitical competition, and interstate mistrust regarding RRCs are not absent, however. India, for reasons similar to those of China, is also developing RRCs with Southeast Asian countries. Some analysts view Chinese and Indian RRC activity in Southeast Asia and Burma in particular as evidence of emerging Sino-Indian geopolitical competition others note the prospect of cooperation between the two large states. In the long run, RRC development could help China craft a hybrid continental-maritime geostrategic posture. Direct land access to Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean decreases Chinese vulnerability to closure, disruption or interdiction of South China SeaSoutheast Asian sea lines of communication SLOCs and U.S. or even Indian or Japanese containment. Competition could actually complement cooperation and integration. China and India have shown some interest in linking the Kunming Initiative and the Mekong-Ganges Cooperation plan. Denser, more efficient RRCs will intensify regional transnational threats. Failure by China to respond effectively and transparently to these threats will undermine internal stability, destabilize neighboring states, and erode regional trust and confidence in China. Common threats will also create opportunities for regional security cooperation.

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Government and Political Science
  • Surface Transportation and Equipment

Distribution Statement: