Burma Road

The historic Burma Road was built during World War II

Burma Road was a very important road during the WW2 linking Lashio, in eastern Burma (now Myanmar), with Kunming, in Yunnan province, China.

How long was Burma Road?

The road was 1,154 km (717 miles) long and was built during World War II to bring supplies to beleaguered China, to help them resist the Japanese invasion. Not much of the original road survives today, but parts of the route can still be travelled. Some parts of the old road are still visible today. It is the central trade route feeding China’s voracious appetite for the resources — including energy, natural resources and food — it desperately needs to sustain its population of 1 billion people. Here China’s pervasive presence, its sophisticated exertion of soft power, is evident at every turn. Built to provide logistic support from India for China in their struggle against the Japanese, it penetrated impenetrable jungles and crossed uncrossable mountains. When the project started it was widely considered to be a fool's mission, but it was completed and did contribute to the war effort.

When was Burma Road built?

It was built as a gateway between Myanmar and the southwest of China, the rising empire on its border. It was one of the most remarkable engineering achievements of all time. More than 200,000 Chinese laborers embarked on a seemingly impossible task: to cut a 700-mile overland route -- the Burma Road -- from the southwest Chinese city of Kunming to Lashio, Burma. But when Burma fell in 1942, the Burma Road was severed. As the first step of the Allied offensive toward Japan, American general Joseph Stilwell reopened it, while, at the same time, keeping China supplied by air-lift from India and simultaneously driving the Japanese out of Burma.

Many Internet sources show pictures of the 24-Zig Road as a part of the Burma Road. But this is a mistake. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, the war supplies first arrived at Kunming by the Burma Road, then went through the "24 Turns" to arrive at Chongqing, the provisional capital, and reach the front-line troops.
Pic: By U.S. Army Center of Military History [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

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