China and Myanmar resume work on Muse-Kyaukphyu railway

Construction News Myanmar

China and Myanmar resume work on Muse-Kyaukphyu railway

A Chinese state-owned company and the military regime are quietly pushing forward with a railway line that would run through active conflict zones, after lengthy delays due to Myanmar’s wariness, COVID-19 and then the coup.


A Chinese state company has resumed preliminary work in Myanmar on a railway from China to the Rakhine State coast, two senior Myanma Railways officials have told Frontier.

The railway is to be a key component of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, linking Kunming in China’s landlocked Yunnan province with a planned special economic zone and deep-sea port in Rakhine’s Kyaukphyu Township. It is being developed by China Eryuan Engineering Group, a subsidiary of state-owned China Railway Engineering Group, in partnership with Myanma Railways, a division of Myanmar’s Ministry of Transport and Communications.

The mega project passes through areas of Shan State and Rakhine where ethnic armed organisations fight regularly with the Myanmar military – and with each other – as well as crossing parts of Myanmar’s central dry zone where armed resistance has raged since the 2021 military coup. Resistance groups say they will attack the project to deny revenue and other benefits to the regime.

In Myanmar, the planned railway will be the first to reach the Chinese border, replacing an existing line built during the British colonial era that runs from Mandalay to Lashio. The new line will span roughly 1,000 kilometres and be divided into two sections, the first going from the border town of Muse in northern Shan to Mandalay and the second connecting Mandalay with Kyaukphyu.

In 2019, China and Myanmar approved the route for the first segment and a feasibility study was conducted. Following the military coup in February 2021, an environmental assessment was conducted later that year and approved in 2022. However, preparations for the second segment were at a standstill until late last year.