CPEC is an acronym for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The name suggests that this is an equal partnership between the two countries but there are many who feel that this may not be the case. Is China simply leading Pakistan along or are there really mutual benefits on both sides?
What is undoubtedly true is that China have put in more in terms of finances and that’s likely to be the reason why some parties suggest that Pakistan aren’t benefiting as much as they should. In this article, we will address that question and outline why we are certain that this isn’t the case.
What is the history of CPEC?
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor alliance was first set up in 2013. It was originally established to aid China’s aims to improve transport networks into Pakistan and beyond. As such, CPEC formed a crucial part of China’s Belt and Road initiative, a separate project designed to overhaul infrastructure and develop those networks between China, Pakistan and other countries in the region.
Initially, progress was steady, but in the last two years it has grown exponentially. In 2017, the value of CPEC projects was placed at $62 billion and that figure has continued to rise in two subsequent years. China has put in billions of dollars and, while their aims are at the forefront of CPEC, Pakistan is clearly benefiting at the same time.
Why is Gwadar so important to CPEC?
We could start by rephrasing that question slightly and ask why Gwadar is important to China. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects stretch for the length and breadth of Pakistan but this strategic port city at the very south western tip of the country is a main focal point.
Management of this deep sea port has been handed over to the Chinese in order to speed up progress and have Gwadar completed on schedule. In their time in charge, China has seen the inception and completion of several key installations in Gwadar. Included in that list are energy projects, property developments and transport links including the initial construction of the city’s international airport. When finished, the site will be one of the biggest in Pakistan, eclipsing airports in Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore in terms of acreage. The cost is believed to be in excess of $250 million with CPEC behind the development every step of the way.
At Gwadar Expo 2019 back in March, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan performed the airport’s groundbreaking ceremony and he announced further rail and ferry projects at the same time. Gwadar is booming and it’s central to CPEC’s aims.
Is Pakistan really benefiting from CPEC?
China naturally have their own interests at heart when implementing and carrying out these CPEC projects but it surely must be clear that Pakistan is benefiting at the same time. As a by-product of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor series of projects, the country now has some better road surfaces and improved transport networks by road, sea and air.
While we’ve focused on Gwadar to an extent, CPEC is responsible for projects that extend far beyond this port city. It may be the jewel as far as CPEC is concerned, but the body is improving those networks on a much wider basis.
In turn, this can only help the Pakistan economy to thrive and to reach new levels. The benefits should, therefore, be obvious and while it might not be possible to silence all of the dissenting voices, we hope we have highlighted exactly why CPEC is not only beneficial, but critical to the success of Pakistan’s economy moving forward.