Published:  01:05 AM, 13 August 2017

CPEC: A remote and dubious goal for China and Pakistan

CPEC: A remote and dubious goal for China and Pakistan

China Development Bank has drafted a prospectus for the Chinese government which depicts all the features and tenets of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This initiative by China is supposed to cost 900 billion US dollars by means of which China intends to invest around 60 billion US dollars into Pakistan. More than half of this amount is ticked off for generating electricity while the remaining sums of money are proposed to be spent on constructing as well as rebuilding roads, seaports, airports, fiber optic cables, agricultural enterprises, tourism and cement factories in Pakistan.

Pakistan is earnestly looking forward to the rapid execution of CPEC as Pakistan thinks the proposed massive investments from China would add a broad magnitude of pace to Pakistan's struggling economy. At the same time CPEC is viewed by experts as Pakistan's strategic bulwark against its longstanding opponent India. Therefore, the implementation of CPEC in the middle of the ongoing circumstances is very much likely to create a lot of diplomatic and geopolitical tussles according to prognosis by political observers.

Relevant sources have informed China has so far aided Pakistan since Pakistan's independence with 78 billion US dollars for facilitating Pakistan's military and economic mobilizations. Pakistan's relationship with China is "sweeter than honey" as stated by immediate past Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif which he said a couple of years back. However, Pakistan's failure to eradicate terrorists and religious fanaticism remains a spiky pole irritating China much frequently.

Quite notably, a great deal of Pakistani people appeared to be more or less annoyed after they came to know about the outline of CPEC plan through some newspapers published from Karachi, Islamabad and other major Pakistani cities. A huge portion of CPEC is supposed to be carried out by Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) which belongs to Chinese defense ministry. Aware citizens of Pakistan and the country's civic society members are worried about the probable direct intervention of Chinese defense authorities with Pakistan's internal affairs if CPEC comes into effect.

On the other hand, Xinjiang's Muslim inhabitants often get into troublesome conflicts with Chinese law and order forces. From this point of view Xinjiang's involvement with Pakistan's industrial and infrastructural projects has already triggered anxiety among the civilians of Pakistan living in the concerned areas.

Furthermore, Chinese engineers are building up two 1100 megawatt nuclear reactors west of Karachi. Environmental trepidations have come up among the ecologists of Pakistan about the adverse effects of nuclear radioactivity across the region. Lots of Pakistani manufacturers have repeatedly complained that the commodities they produce are facing many hurdles in Pakistan due to the widespread availability of Chinese goods which has happened because of a free trade deal signed in 2007 between Islamabad and Beijing. Most of the Pakistani economists have in the meantime expressed their concern that if CPEC is implemented Pakistan's economy would run the risk of being totally colonized by Chinese private and state-owned firms though officials representing Pakistan government have declined these points.

Geopolitical connoisseurs have meanwhile predicted that Pakistan's honeymoon with China over CPEC is very much unlikely to persist. According to political scientists since Pakistan army holds strong influence over Pakistan's civil administration, the Chinese firms getting into Pakistan through CPEC will get disillusioned quite shortly because of inevitable regimentation and reproach by Pakistan military authorities. Besides, China will also find it very difficult to work on the soil of Pakistan due to Pakistan's radical Islamist groups. Judging from these two angles, even if CPEC is materialized its sustenance is most likely to be very much uncertain and shaky. These predictions about CPEC, if proven right, would beyond doubts punch harder blows to ties between Beijing and Islamabad. Things may not remain much sweeter consequently.

China's proposed CPEC road runs through the disputed territory in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir which is another precarious angle of this scheme. India's relationship with China has been calm, though not too warm, since the short war between these two countries in 1962. Beijing is constantly angered by India's lenience to Dalai Lama for last many years while India sometimes feels displeased when India's interest is obstructed by China's use of diplomatic leverage which is buttressed by China's permanent membership in the United Nations Security Council. Despite all these things, China still remains India's leading trade partner with China's much higher bilateral trade with India rather than with Pakistan.

India is making sound efforts to keep up amicable bonds with neighboring countries by providing aid for the infrastructural works of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Sri Lanka is one of the countries which have suffered a lot by swallowing Chinese debts. Economists of Bangladesh, keeping in mind Sri Lanka's unpleasant experience with Chinese loans, have warned Bangladesh's policymakers to deal with Chinese offers very cautiously. It may be added that Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Bangladesh in October 2016 and pledged 24 billion dollars in loans, credits and infrastructural projects.

Veteran political analysts and financial experts of Bangladesh have advised Bangladesh government to lay highest emphasis on strengthening relationship with India as India has been Bangladesh's ally since the birth of Bangladesh back in 1971 when India comprehensively assisted Bangladesh during Bangladesh's Liberation War while two superpowers China and America opposed Bangladesh's independence. Soviet Union, now known as Russian Federation, helped Bangladesh too during the war of 1971.

China's eagerness for carrying out CPEC is not going to be a piece of cake-that's for sure. The other side of the coin shows that CPEC has all the chances to put Pakistan at stake if it is ever implemented fully or partially.


The writer is an online journalist working for The Asian Age


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