Myanmar will reopen by next year its section of a wartime highway linking neighboring India and China after renovation to help facilitate trade between those two countries, a local newspaper reported Wednesday.
The 1,300-kilometer-long Ledo or Stilwell Highway, a strategic supply route between India and China via Myanmar's border town of Myitkyina in the northernmost Kachin state, was built during World War II by Chinese and American troops.
The highway extends as Ledo (northeastern India)-Myitkyina ( northern Myanmar)-Kunming (southwestern China).
The reopening of the Myanmar section of the highway, which will lead to the most convenient land route between China and India as well as to turn Southeast Asia into a key trading hub, was discussed by the Myanmar Ministry of Commerce and the India- Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the representatives of which visited Yangon last May, the 7-Day News quoted the federation's officials as saying.
The current trading route to ship most of India's exports to China, by contrast, is as long as 6,000 kilometers through the Malacca Strait and the Indian Ocean before reaching China's eastern coast.
The Ledo highway was built by Chinese troops and the Allied Forces of the United States in 1945 to transport logistic supplies to the beleaguered Chinese army when the Yunnan-Myanmar road, a crucial lifeline in China's war of resistance against Japanese aggression, was cut off by Japanese troops in 1942.
It was later renamed the Stilwell Road after General Joseph Stilwell, commander of the allied forces in Southeast Asia who commanded the US forces in the China-Myanmar-India theater in World War II.
The road starts in Ledo (India) and divides in two routes at Myitkyina in Myanmar. The southern route runs through Bhamo and Namkham in Myanmar reaches Wanding in China, while the northern route passes Myanmar's Kambaiti, China's Houqiao and Tengchong, before connecting with the Yunnan-Myanmar road.