To answer this question we have to firstly look at the wider picture and a series of projects that jointly involve China and Pakistan. These ventures come under the name of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which is a commitment to developing infrastructure in Pakistan.
Frequently known by its acronym CPEC, the projects may be focused on Pakistan but the ultimate intention is to benefit both countries. It’s a massive undertaking and the city of Gwadar is pivotal to its overall success.
How much is CPEC worth?
When the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was originally established in 2013, it was valued at a total of $46 billion. By 2017, additional projects had been included to the point where that figure had risen to $62 billion and it continues to rise.
The sums involved mean that CPEC mustn’t fail and with that in mind, it’s now time to consider Gwadar’s role in the situation.
Where is Gwadar Located?
You can find Gwadar on a map by heading down to the south west tip of Pakistan. Looking out into the Arabian sea, Pakistan originally purchased Gwadar from Oman when its potential as a deep sea port was first recognised in 1954. However, it has since been leased to China until 2059 and that’s clearly an indication as to the value that the Chinese on the region.
It’s said that Beijing view Gwadar as being of critical importance due to its precise location which places it at the mouth of the Persian Gulf and in a close enough proximity to the Strait of Hormuz as to be extremely significant.
Gwadar is situated some 600 kilometres from the Strait of Hormuz and while that may seem like a severe distance, it is very close in nautical terms. In short, there is no deep sea port closer to the Strait than Gwadar that can handle the amount of shipping that will pass through there.
The Significance of the Strait
For a more detailed answer to the question, why is Gwadar so important to China, we can study the significance of the Strait of Hormuz. This is the only access from the Persian Gulf into the open ocean and as such, it is the major transport link for the region’s most important products.
We’re chiefly talking about petrol: On an annual basis, 35% of global petroleum that is delivered via sea will pass through the Strait and this goes on to account for 20% of all global stocks. It’s an incredible percentage and arguably this is the most important factor to take into account when considering Gwadar’s potential.
There are many aspects to CPEC and plenty of additional locations in Pakistan that are relevant to the whole agreement. However, at the heart of it all is the international port city of Gwadar. The importance of Gwadar to China lies purely in that strategic location that opens up a wealth or trade and increases Chinese power on a global basis.