By Suhana Nanda
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a bilateral project under Beijing’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a programme to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks along six corridors with the aim of improving regional integration, increasing trade and enhancing economic growth.
It was jointly launched on April 20, 2015 by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
CPEC is essentially a combination of infrastructure projects (network of roads, pipelines, power plants, industrial parks) currently under development in Pakistan. Initially, it was valued at $46 billion but the revised value has seen an increase of $16 billion, and now reportedly stands at $62 billion.
CPEC aims to serve the dual goal of improving the infrastructure within Pakistan and to further integrate the countries of the region for China. Under this program, Pakistan will prove to be an international interlinkage and the hub for international trade.
Pakistan will witness rapid enhancement and modernisation of the country’s infrastructure and economy including energy projects and transportation networks (road, rail, air). According to PWC, Pakistan will be the world’s 20th largest economy by the year 2030. Reportedly, it will also record a creation of 700,000 to 800,000 jobs until then.
China will enjoy increasing its market by being connected to the Middle East, Africa and Asia through the shortest routes – Gwadar Port will facilitate trade from Persian Gulf and Africa to Western and Northern China reducing the distance by several thousand kilometers. Furthermore, it will witness economic development of relatively backward regions like Xinjiang, amongst others.
Thus, CPEC seems to be a strategic move by China to increase it’s economic influence. At the same time, it threatens the Indian National Security and sovereignty as it passes through Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.