CPEC: Gains and Disparities

By Tyela Shaffan

China-Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) is a mega project of USD 45+ billion taking the bilateral relationship between Pakistan and China to new heights. The project is the beginning of a journey of prosperity of Pakistan and China’s Xinjiang. The economic corridor is about 3000 Kilometers long consisting of highways, railways and pipelines that will connect China’s Xinjiang province to rest of the world through Pakistan’s Gwadar port. The economic corridor is not merely a road or rail track; the economic corridor is a way to bring peace and economic stability in the region. Pakistan; as being one the major countries in south east Asia can benefit a lot form this project as it will help the country to eliminate the energy crisis and other transportation problems. China; on the other hand will also gain a lot of benefit from this project. This is one the main reasons that they are investing more than 46 million dollars in a foreign land. Pakistan and China formalized plans for the CPEC in April 2015, when they signed fifty-one agreements and memoranda of understanding on Chinese investments, totaling $46 billion over the next ten to fifteen years.

It is an understood fact that whenever there is a time of sigh waiting for Pakistan then there is always a dark shadow of opposition behind. Pakistan should increase its security concerns towards this mega project as state’s domestic and foreign opposition are using immense sources to vanish the ambitious dream. As said by the state-run Global Times in an article, “The corridor’s construction worries Pakistan’s domestic and foreign opposition groups.” Looking towards the Chinese President maiden visit to Pakistan, the two countries with which India fought war. If examined deeply, China will contribute with bulk of finance, once the treaties would go for signature. It means $15 billion dollar more than US has contributed since 2002. In spite of message delivered to India about the more power gained by Pakistan. It is also the fact that China will also move ahead in empowering nuclear-armed restive neighbor to be militarily and economically strong against India. So by considering the fact that Pak-China strategic ties will coincide with the Pak-China-Russia strategic axis, it’s an alarming situation for India Strategic establishment. The CPEC corridor is expected to be operational within three years. And make no mistake about it that given the proven track record of China, Beijing will leave no stone unturned in completing the project on schedule, if not before time. Once completed, the CPEC project would enlarge China’s strategic footprints in the Indian Ocean and would change the regional power matrix forever. Additionally, once accomplished, it will lead to stronger position of Pakistan in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. This is truly a red rag for India given the fact that a strong and resurgent Pakistan would inevitably needle India all the more. India is not alone in this. The United States and its allies also find themselves at the wrong side of the Chinese stick. The United States is not at all happy over the growing Pakistan-China relations and the execution of China Pakistan Economic Corridor project- the multi billion dollars project that will turn Pakistan into a regional trade. This was the gist of the briefing given by the foreign office as well as defense officials to the joint meeting of the defense and foreign affairs committee of the Senate. US is now showing some flexibility towards India. For US, Pakistan is tilting towards China and it’s a source of tension for US. The recently announced US-India joint strategic vision for Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean Region makes it clear that the focus of US is on the factor of China’s latest move in South Asia. By the words of head of the Bank of America that how the US dollar is threatened by the Chinese yen and not the euro. This means the Chinese yen is going to replace the US dollar. The whole tale of Pak-China economic ties and the created conflict is circulating around this point. Some forces are not willing to let China enter Pakistan with such a huge investment. Therefore, most China-invested projects have been made controversial.

Pakistan and China have long-established diplomatic and military ties and are now entering an epoch of developing an economic relationship with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Their partnership has established an example for the world of how states with geographical proximity but differing political, social, economic, and ideological values can establish a cooperative bilateral relationship. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has characterized the relationship as “higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the deepest sea in the world, and sweeter than honey.” However, the success of the China-Pakistan trade corridor is vital to maintaining the relationship. Every emerging or growing country faces challenges when it is in the transition phase of economic development. China and Pakistan have the opportunity to create connections, which if worked as planned and without any disruptions, will strengthen the Asian economy as a whole. CPEC’s future in terms of its gains, losses, and benefits at the national and regional levels will define its success in the coming years. With this project, Pakistan has been given the opportunity to deepen economic cooperation with an allied partner, which has an important status in international relations.

The writer can be reached at # shaffan95@yahoo.com

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