The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) officially launched in 2013. It debuted three years after China’s first shipload of cargo exported via the Gwadar Port to markets in West Asia as well as Africa.
Essentially CPEC is an economic collaboration between the two countries; it seeks to bring about a new period of development for both parties through a series of heavily financed projects. This will include construction of trading infrastructures such as railways, roads, pipelines e.t.c.
Through a route connecting Kashgar, China to Gwadar, CPEC intends to expand China’s trade network. Eventually, due to increased and easier access, China should have full liberty to trade with the South Asian and the Gulf States thus it will have a stronger economic and political foothold in the peninsula.
2. What will Pakistan gain?
Some are worried about debt accumulation due to the massive flow of investment circulating due to CPEC. However, it is a fact that Pakistan will be seeing major developmental changes in the years ahead. Especially once CPEC really picks up the pace.
Power sector investment means a possible increased provision of electricity, which has always remained a point of contention in Pakistan. This should lead to electrification of areas previously deprived. Furthermore, we can expect more employment and consequentially better living standards.
3. CPEC and Gwadar
A major benchmark for CPEC was the transformation and construction of the Gwadar Port to make it a fully functional medium for trade. For China, this signifies stronger and more efficient trading relations with the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. However, there is the underlying concern regarding the instability of Balochistan as a province due to the long-standing problem of terrorism, and the negative connotations of this for the running of the port.
4. Pakistan’s uncertain optimism
We have a few groups of people who are transparently critical of CPEC’s objectives and what they mean for Pakistan. Some say it is only a convenient exploitation of the country’s resources and its inhabitants. Naturally, the displacement of the already struggling class of poor people while infrastructure is being installed stands out as a relevant concern during projects such as these.
5. There’s always a conspiracy
There are some who would like to declare Armageddon, because of course, CPEC must be the beginning of the Chinese attempt at world domination. This is actually being discussed as a valid concern as we see an outpouring of specialized workers from China into Pakistan.
However, there is also an overwhelming show of positivity and support for CPEC.