What is China’s role in Gwadar?

Gwadar is a port city located on the south western tip of Pakistan. Currently, it is enjoying a period of sustained development that will continue across 2019 and beyond and construction will shortly involve a new international airport that will become the biggest in the country.

The development of Gwadar is essential to the success of Pakistan’s future economy so why is the city so indelibly linked to Pakistan? To answer that question, we have to firstly look at the work of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

What is CPEC?

CPEC is an alliance between Pakistan and China that is designed to improve the infrastructure of both countries to their mutual benefit. The alliance was set up in 2013 and while there are some projects in China, the majority of these fall inside Pakistan. Roads and other transport links are an important part of the overall set up while there are many specific plans relating to energy.

While there are plenty of developments going on in Karachi and other areas, Gwadar is central to the aims of CPEC. In fact, China rate the city so highly that they have currently leased it from Pakistan.

Why is Gwadar so important to CPEC?

The international port of Gwadar is vital because of its key strategic position and it’s the location that makes China so eager to see development follow on to an effective conclusion. Situated on the south west coast and looking out into the Arabian Sea, this is the largest sea port within 600 kilometres of the Strait of Hormuz and that one fact is key to why China are so heavily involved.

The Strait is a vital global shipping artery and among the many commodities that pass through is 20% of the world’s petroleum. Quite simply, the Chinese see Gwadar as a pivotal location in regards to their role as an economic superpower but what, exactly, are they doing to fire CPEC along?

How are China backing Gwadar?

China’s main support to Gwadar comes in the form of financial input. Billions of dollars have either been paid or pledged to ongoing work in the city. Among those contributions is China’s commitment to the biggest project of all – Gwadar’s international airport. Construction of this is set to begin from April 2019 and China will be providing $230 million to the cause.

Elsewhere, China have provided the funds to build a hospital in the city. It will have 100 beds and the Chinese commitment here comes in at $100 million. China were also involved right from the very start with millions of dollars produced in order to install breakwaters and dredge the berths in Gwadar harbour.

It would be wrong to say that China’s role in Gwadar is purely financial as the country is providing labour and more by way of support. Ultimately, however, those staggering sums represent their biggest input and the means by which this port city will meet all of its aims.

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