CPEC, The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, is designed to improve regional connectivity between China and Pakistan, opening up new passages for trade and allowing movement of labour and goods. It is generally the case that many in Pakistan welcome this economic and political relationship between the two nations.
For Pakistan, it is of high economic importance as this infrastructure investment opportunity has created several bridges, roads, motorways, jobs and led to a positive multiplier effect in the economy. For China, this also opens up potential for economic and geopolitical gain, opening up access to new opportunities and utilizing Pakistan’s natural resources. It is of huge geopolitical benefit to China that it now has Pakistan as a long term ally, especially important given the recent troubles on the China-India border.
CPEC has come about through years of negotiations between the two nations. The current Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has expressed his support for the project, “our relationship has attained new heights after the China Pakistan Economic Corridor that is a game changer for the region and beyond”. Prime Minister Abbasi is confident that as well as being of huge benefit to Pakistan and China, the CPEC project will stimulate trade and boost economic activity in the entire region too. President of China, Xi Jinping is also passionate about this economic alliance, professing that “to build a China-Pakistan community of shared destiny is a strategic decision made by our two governments and peoples. Let us work together to create an ever brighter future for China and Pakistan”.
CPEC is a long term project focusing on energy, infrastructure, Gwadar port in Balochistan, special economic zones and other social sector development projects. CPEC is a collection of these projects. The Keti Bunder Sea Port Development Project, the Mirpur – Muzaffarabad – Mansehra Road Construction for connectivity with CPEC route and the Quetta Water Supply scheme are just some of the projects that intend to improve infrastructure links, create local jobs and provide a sustainable source of renewable energy for rural and urban areas. In this CPEC alliance, both countries value the need for renewable energy sources and sustainable green energy plans which is why China and Pakistan have agreed to build hydropower stations, wind farms and solar parks.
CPEC is not a minor project but a revolution in Pakistan’s economic history. Under CPEC, China would invest roughly $46 billion for the development of infrastructure and energy. Through special economic zones and regional investment, CPEC will create many thousands of jobs especially for the Balochi youth that would acquire modern innovate skills in the future.
The Karakoram Highway is a symbolic and strategic investment as it has led to investment in developing parts of Pakistan which have been neglected for a long period of time. CPEC will pass through under developed areas hence benefitting the nation as a whole. Aswell as this, CPEC will in the near future provide tourism opportunities and other foreign direct investment which will be instrumental in alleviating the existing energy crisis.
China also benefits massively through this economic and geopolitical alliance. It will reduce the trade route from 12000km via sea to 2000km via land, from Kashgar to Gwadar. China is aware of the growing Indian economy and its rising middle class, highly educated sector. Therefore, China is continuing to assert its dominance in the region through developing links with nations like Pakistan as they provide both geopolitical and economic importance.
Through CPEC, China is able to use alternatives to the Strait of Malacca and Indian Ocean, further broadening its geopolitical influence and possibly military presence in the region, especially in the Gwadar port region. Thus geopolitically and economically, CPEC is indeed a game changer for both nations and will be vital for Pakistan’s long term economic vision and China’s long term geopolitics.