ABSTRACT. This paper looks at the bilateral and multilateral relations in South and East Asia – with a focus on “BCIM Regional Cooperation” and the related proposal to create an economic corridor – “Southern Silk Route” connecting China, India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The aim is to analyze the relationships shared by the four countries to understand the opportunities, challenges and overall benefits of a successful cooperation. This idea, first coined as the “the Kunming Initiative” in 1999, faced years of inactivity. Morphed into the “BCIM Initiative,” it has garnered much policy traction through official recognition from all the four governments involved. The sub-region, though a natural economic zone boasting a market size of 2.8 billion people, has remained largely neglected and underdeveloped. Northeast region in India and the adjoining parts in Bangladesh, Myanmar, and South West China are some of the least developed parts of the countries. For many years, internal as well as international politics had kept the countries from opening up borders and promote economic development in the region. While China pushed for greater integration, unresolved border-disputes among other security apprehensions had India hesitant, preventing any substantial economic connectivity. At the same time Myanmar was struggling with international sanctions and domestic political complications. With Myanmar’s entry into the global economic system and India easing up on security apprehensions, the BCIM Forum experienced a new lease of life since 2012. The priority for Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar appears to be creating “alliances for prosperity” and that is the driving force behind the BCIM framework. pp. 173–189

Keywords: integration; geopolitics; geo-economics; regionalism; international trade; economic corridor

How to cite: Hussain, Zaara Zain (2015), “The ‘BCIM Regional Cooperation:’ An Emerging Multilateral Framework in Asia,” Geopolitics, History, and International Relations 7(2): 173–189.

Received 4 August 2014 • Received in revised form 30 March 2015
Accepted 1 April 2015 • Available online 1 August 2015

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Institute of South Asian Studies,
National University of Singapore

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