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AN OVERVIEW OF THE CHINA PAKISTAN ECONOMIC CORRIDOR

Introduction
To be able to understand the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), it is important to have a brief introduction into China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or the One Belt One Road (OBOR) vision. It is a strategic plan that involves development of up to six corridors in various countries across the Central Asia, South East Asia and parts of the Middle East, trying to replicate the ancient Silk Route. As a part of this, they also have the 21st Century Maritime Route that attempts to link China to Europe through South West Africa and South Asia. If successful, the OBOR will connect China to up to 60 countries, boosting its GDP by up to 25%.

Need for CPEC

The CPEC is a part of the vision of OBOR. China needs the CPEC for two key reasons. First, the Chinese economy is manufacturing based, therefore it requires an uninterrupted flow of raw material and power/energy and a market to sell these products. For both of these, China’s best solution is to be directly connected to the Middle East and the Central Asian Republics (CAR), which hold a significant amount of energy sources. Due to lack of development and connectivity, most countries avoid trading with the CAR and instead opt to obtain energy from the Middle East. Once CPEC is developed, China will be able to trade with the CAR with ease and it will also reduce the vulnerability of China’s trade route passing through the Strait of Malacca and the disputed South China Sea which proves to be more expensive as well as dangerous[1].

Therefore, if CPEC progresses as planned, it solves both problems since it provides China with a shorter route to transport goods to the mainland that too a route that doesn’t involve the added threat of hostile nations and at the same time it increases the parts of the World they can trade with.

About the project

Under the project, the objective is to focus on four key areas; Gwadar port, Energy, Transportation Infrastructure and Industrial Cooperation.[2] While these are the key areas, the other areas to be worked on include expansion in Financial Services, Science and Technology, Tourism, Education, Poverty Alleviation and City Planning[3], etc. According to a February report by international ratings agency Moody's, the corridor will boost economic activity in Pakistan, whose growth rate is expected to be 4.9 per cent this year.[4]

The long term project is expected to span over 2013-2030. To keep things systematic, some of the projects have been listed into early harvest projects which are likely to be completed by 2018-2020 while the others will follow thereafter.

Transportation Connectivity New highways spanning across Pakistan have been planned that will increase the connectivity of the sea ports with the Northern areas of the country, and even to some parts of Central Asia and China. For e.g. improvements are being made on the Karachi and Peshawar railway line which is the most important line of the Pakistani railways, one that has also seen significant ruin.

Energy Projects Under CPEC, while primary focus has been on generation of energy through fossil fuels: wind, hydropower and solar energy will also be a part of the plan in energy infrastructure development.

Gwadar Port. The Gwadar Port is perhaps the most important part of the CPEC since this is the primary link/point of connectivity in the corridor. Up-gradation of the port and the facilities available there is underway. Chinese as well as Pakistani authorities have made repeated remarks that the port will be aimed at improving the maritime connectivity in the region. The corridor will help cut the journey time for freight between Gwadar Port, West China and the Central Asian regions by 60 to 70 per cent.

Industrial Cooperation. The CPEC has also targeted industrial cooperation in the area. The improved transportation and energy infrastructure will help the industries to first increase their production and then distribute them equitably.

Conclusion

CPEC is a project that brings maximum benefits to China, maximum loss to India, with Pakistan stuck somewhere in between with a balance in pros and cons. It is clear that successful implementation of CPEC would be nothing short of disastrous for India. Therefore, India should consider taking some measures, even if and preferably drastic ones to ensure that they do whatever they can to reduce its expansion, if not altogether stop this project.


Written By:
Harshita Chaarag
IV Year

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the author and do not reflect the views and opinions of the Blog.



[1] More on this in the section dealing with economic and strategic implications for China.
[2] Referred to http://www.cpecinfo.com/10-questions-on-cpec (1st July 2017, 22:00).
[3] Ibid.
[4] Referred to http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/gwadar-port-will-boost-pakistans-regions-economy-china/articleshow/58513113.cms (accessed on 1st July, 22:17)

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