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Dimensions of China Pakistan Economic Corridor; By Muhammed Safwan A.

Picture Courtesy: The Indian Express

C3S Article no: 0078/2017


The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a  prominent part of the ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) mega project of China which is capable of linking three major continents in the world viz Asia, Europe and Africa, accounting around for 68 countries in the world. However the motive of China behind the huge investment in Pakistan is a widely debated issue.  China is trying to convert it’s good economic and strategic relations with Pakistan for China’s economic benefits by establishing a shorter oil transport route from Middle East. Meanwhile, India is one of the major opponents of the CPEC as it passes through the disputed territory of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). It will have crucial repercussions both politically and strategically. China has to face internal challenges as well while implementing CPEC. On the other hand, Pakistan is perhaps going to enjoy the fruits of this 3000 km long route which include roads, railways, and energy pipe lines. The entire project is worth approximately $75 billon. This paper attempts to study the details of this scenario through various perspectives and concludes with expected outcomes of the mega project for both countries and the world.


The mega Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) summit held in Beijing from 14 May to 15th May 2017, attracted the world’s attention.  The attention was garnered due to the presence of some major players as well as absence of some major players in the summit. Delegates of leading countries like US, UK, Australia, Japan, etc chose to participate in the summit whereas some countries like India chose not to send a delegate. However the rush of some players to the summit shows that they believe that OBOR would be vital to promote economy, connectivity and integration across continents.

One Belt One Road connects three continents in the world viz Asia, Europe and Africa which constitute around 68 countries. More countries are about to express their willingness to take part in the project. Chinese president Xi Jinping has made the project as China’s center of attraction vis-à-vis its foreign policy and domestic economic strategy.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an infrastructure project initiated by China as a part of BRI. CPEC is one of the immediate and major lines in the proposed New Silk Road and it aims to strengthen the political and economic ties between China and Pakistan. CPEC is a 3000 km long route, including roadways, railways, and energy pipe lines. The estimated cost of this project is approximate $75 billon.

CPEC primarily aims to connect Gwadar Port, located in Baluchistan (Southern Pakistan) to Xinjiang in China (Northwest China) through railways, highways as well as energy pipelines which will ease gas and oil transportation logistics and costs. Moreover, upgrading Gwadar Port also aims to address the energy concerns and energy infrastructure of Pakistan. CPEC proposes a 3 fold roadway infrastructure namely Karakorum Highway, East Alignment and West Alignment. In addition, the Pakistan railway line will be extended to Kashgar in Xinjiang. A Karachi- Peshawar rail line speed upgrading is also proposed. Besides, a 27.1 km length Lahore metro line is another important part of this project. In addition, almost $33 billon is estimated for the development of energy infrastructure. It will apparently help to resolve energy shortage of Pakistan. The upcoming Gwadar International Airport and such other peripheral developments in various fields like tourism, agriculture, etc are added advantages of the project. Thus Pakistan’s infrastructure development is projected to have an incredible jump backed by CPEC.

Since this is the general outline, CPEC brings a number of questions which are yet to be answered. What are the motives of China behind CPEC ? How will CPEC affect the Indian Ocean region? It will definitely not be easy for China to execute the project. Thus what are all the prospective challenges for China to implement CPEC successfully? Why does India not support CPEC? Finally, the impacts of CPEC on Pakistan’s infrastructure development are yet to be defined as there are a number of concerns regarding agriculture and security fields of Pakistan. The paper analyzes all these questions on the ground of the ongoing studies and debates.

Motives of China behind CPEC

China has a special interest in Gwadar port. It will help oil and petroleum transportation to China. The transportation time and cost between Middle East and China will be reduced by 75% when the port starts full-fledged functioning. As Gwadar port connects with Xinxiang, it will be helpful for the latter’s development. Xinjiang is a mountainous and desert area which is a land locked area, and hence still underdeveloped.

The Indian Ocean stands as a crucial factor for all major economic transportations in this region. According to Robert Kaplan[i], the Indian Ocean littoral is pivotal to the 21st century. Since European colonialism till date, numerous global trade and energy routes have passed through the Indian Ocean. When Gwadar port starts fully functioning China may attempt to establish a naval base there, which will help China to dominate Indian Ocean. China has no significant presence in the Indian Ocean as of now.

However the transportation cost of energy will not be decreased, because the marine route is comparatively less expensive than the land route (Gwadar-Kashgar). Moreover the capacity of Gwadar port is another issue. China imports large volumes of energy, while Gwadar port lacks sufficient loading and unloading facilities. Usually big oil tankers’ capacity is 250.000DWT (Dead Weight Tonnage) but Gwadar port is allowing only 200.000DWT capacity.

The Malacca Dilemma is another motive of China behind CPEC. The Chinese economy needs a stable and consistent energy supply. China is the world’s largest importer of oil, almost 77 % of which is coming from Middle East and Africa through the Malacca straits. The Strait of Malacca is a narrow stretch of water (890km) between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. China has concerns about US intervention in Malacca as these straits have been used by China strategically and economically. Thus China has been searching for alternative energy resources and routes[ii].

China is left with three options to overcome this threat. Firstly, China could increase its military and naval strength in the South China Sea and Malacca Strait. However it is not a feasible option. Secondly, China could increase domestic oil production and the thirdly China needs to find an alternative route for oil transportation. If the latter is executed successfully, China can get Middle East oil via Gwadar port. This will help to meet the other challenges faced in Malacca: depth of the sea and piracy. For some of the world’s largest ships (mostly oil tankers) the minimum depth is 25 meters or 82 feet which are not there in Malacca[iii]. Piracy is another problem of Malacca which had been high in the 2000’s[iv]. While recent reports indicate that the piracy attacks have been reduced, it is clear the threat is not completely eradicated.

China is also looking for its market maximization and becoming a major power in Asia. As part of CPEC, China will extend many facilities to Pakistan. It includes takeover of thousands acres of agricultural land in Pakistan by Chinese entrepreneurs on lease and they will produce agricultural products with the help of Chinese technology[v]. In addition, Karachi and Lahore highways, markets and other important places will always come under CCTV surveillance for maintaining law and order which is clearly invading in to Pakistan sovereignty[vi]. Chinese citizens can travel across Pakistan without any formalities[vii]. The major capital for this project is coming from China and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), to which the repaying capacity of Pakistan is doubtful. These points are denoting China is likely going to colonize Pakistan.

Indian Ocean Region: Intentions of India, China and USA

The Indian Ocean is the world’s third-largest littoral consisting of 47 nations. The Indian Ocean covers around 20% of the world’s surface including numerous geo-strategically important island groups. The region attracts more attention by its access through nine routes including five key Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs) which are primarily meant for energy transportation from the Middle East. Thus the European economy, East Asia and the US depend upon the Indian Ocean SLOCs for the transportation of inputs and outputs of production. The United States has been the actual security provider for these SLOCs since the 1960s and the India-US naval sea partnership is the interest of India. According to ‘A Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Sea power’ by the Government of India, ‘Indo-Asia-Pacific’ region, a term being increasingly used by US policymakers which seeks to merge the entire Pacific with the Indian Ocean and the US navy brings its focus on the same region has been admired. This Indo-US alliance seeks to restate US agenda of ‘rebalancing’ the Asia-Pacific by countering China’s revisionist maritime strategy and to stop China’s expansionist tendencies in Asia. It is apparent that both the Indian and US navy are cautious of Chinese naval force. The interests of both the Indian and US navy converge as far as protecting SLOCs and countering the growing threat of deeper Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean region.

Several years ago, a statement “The Indian Ocean is not India’s Ocean” by a Chinese General in charge[viii] of safeguarding his country’s energy supplies indicates what is there in the mind of China. This statement can be perceived as a notion against the Indian and world view that ‘South China Sea is not a Chinese sea’[ix]. China has been taking vigorous steps to challenge India’s natural, geographic dominance in the Indian Ocean Region and the OBOR is the latest measure. Since major US ports on the East Coast depend on the Panama Canal to trade with China, China will be in a position to offer a ‘shorter and more economical’ trade route to most North and Latin American enterprises when CPEC becomes fully functional. This enables China to catch the power to speak on the terms of international movement of goods in the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans and there by China can intervene in Indian Ocean region as well.

China has been looking for a chance to realize its so-called ‘String of Pearls’ ambition so long. ‘String of Pearls’, according to some academicians, refers to a game-plan of China encircling India through a network of airfields and ports[x]. China may have denied the same, however it is almost at the stage of implementing a similar strategy successfully with an existing presence in Chittagong port (Bangladesh), Hambantota port (Sri Lanka), Port Sudan (Sudan), Maldives, Somalia and Seychelles. In addition, Gwadar port establishes a complete dominance of the Indian Ocean by China. There are high chances of China stationing its troops in the region to secure its investment in case of a possible terror attack in militancy-infested Baluchistan. China has often hinted at deploying its marine corps at the strategically important port in spite of Pakistan denying Chinese military presence in the country.

Djibouti naval base will another connecting point in the strategy of invading Indian Ocean in the name of OBOR. As Gwadar port has already affirmed with expanding Chinese presence in Arabian Sea along with ports in Sri Lanka and Maldives, Djibouti naval base will help China to dominate the Arabian Sea Bay in a triangular way. Djibouti is at the southern entrance to the Red Sea on the route to the Suez Canal. It is a tiny, barren nation sandwiched between Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea. Djibouti already hosts US, Japanese and French army bases. China has set up its first overseas military base in Djibouti, as the country is rapidly modernizing military and extends its global reach. This agreement between China and Djibouti will ensure its military presence in the country up until 2026, with a contingent of up to 10,000 soldiers[xi]. Beijing officially described as a logistics facility for China: the proposed naval base will be used to resupply navy ships taking part in peacekeeping and humanitarian missions in Africa and West Asia in general and in the coasts of Yemen and Somalia in particular. However that may not be the truth. The interest behind this naval base is establishing China’s presence in the Indian Ocean region.  Djibouti’s position on the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean has fuelled concern of India as it would become another pearl in China’s ‘string of pearls’ military alliances and assets encircling India. It is likely that Djibouti and Gwadar will be juxtaposed by China for these purposes.

Why Does India Not Support CPEC?

India is not supporting the CPEC project as it passes through Pak Occupied Kashmir (POK) which is disputed territory. POK is the shortest route between Gwadar and Xinjiang thus becoming an economic gateway of China from Middle East when China completes CPEC project. Pakistan can take advantage of higher investment in POK if at all India or Pakistan is taking this issue to any international court[xii]. India was not consulted at any point before or during the implementation of CPEC. It is a clear challenge from China to Indian sovereignty since India made it clear that POK is an issue between India and Pakistan and there is no scope for any third party involvement. This threat can also be perceived from the point of merger of China Occupied Kashmir (COK) and POK which could take India’s strategically important regions away and the same will be used against India.

Gwadar port is an important part of CPEC, for which China has been investing heavily. It is a major competitor for the Chabahar port in Iran funded by India. Chabahar and Gwadar ports are located in only 72 km distance to each other. Strategically, Pakistan may give permission to China to use Gwadar port militarily. Such militarization of Gwadar port will result in increased Chinese military influence in Indian Ocean. Moreover Pakistan may also use the port for its own military purposes as well. These things pose serious threat to India in the Indian Ocean region as India doesn’t have any permission to use Chabahar port for military uses yet. Moreover Iran has signed an agreement between Iran and China to increase their bilateral trade which means Iran is not ready to avoid Chinese relation. Hence India may have to seriously suffer in terms of military strength in Indian Ocean due to CPEC. Thus, China is a major threat to India in two fronts viz Kasmir and Indian Ocean through CPEC.

Baluchistan, which in fact plays a tactical role in this issue. It is a similar case of POK where India support Baluchistan for their struggle toward independence and sovereignty as Pakistan does in case of Kashmir. Baluchistan was forcefully occupied by the Pakistani army in 1947 by violating all the international norms of sovereignty and human rights, according to Indian stand. Since CPEC passes through Baluchistan, India is against the idea as it is an invasion over the interests of Baluchistan. India raised this issue in UN as Pakistan has systematically abused and violated the human rights of the region.

The Challenges for China to Implement CPEC

  1. Xinjiang Unrest

Xinjiang is an autonomous region located in North West China. It is a vast region of deserts and mountains which is very rich in natural resources as it has coal, oil and gas reserves, including deposits of copper, gold, iron, lead, mica, platinum, silver, sulphur, tin and uranium. At the same time Xinjiang is an economically undeveloped area with numerous ethnic groups residing in it. But this area is much different from rest of the China in terms of culture. The demography of Xinjiang’s population comprises primarily of Turkish-speaking Muslims which include the Uyghur, Kazakh, Hui, Kyrgyz and Mongol ethnic groups[xiii]. These groups have cultural and linguistic ties to both Central Asia and Mongolia. Much in the same way of Tibet, China has been putting a lot of efforts to stabilize Xinjiang for the long term, particularly in securing its domestic and regional interests. Except for the Han Chinese community, the persistent unrest in the Xinjiang region has left dozens of people either dead or wounded. This is notably relevant in terms of the Muslim world as Xinjiang shares a very long border (5600 km) with eight neighboring countries and majority of them are under Islamic rule. Thus their cooperation is vital for China[xiv] and is thus dependent upon its continuous fighting against cross-border activities of Uyghur militants who are predominantly Muslims. Hence Xinjiang is a combination of strategic geography, natural resources and the quest for strategic depth and security which makes the region one of China’s most strategically important provinces.

China’s policy of state-endorsed settlement of Han Chinese in the region is the foundation of the unrest in the region. As a result of the policy, the Han Chinese population has increased from an estimated 300,000 before 1949, to over six million today[xv]. This influx of Han Chinese appears to have become an increasing source of tension among many Uyghurs as they see the phenomenon as a threat to their way of life. Consequently, the emergence of radical Uyghur Islamist secessionist groups such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) have formed and devoted them towards the creation of an Islamic state in Xinjiang, which they term ‘Uyghurstan’[xvi]. Moreover China has increased military presence in Xinjiang which makes the residents oppose the Government. The community faces also issues such as lack of jobs, discrimination and poor economic development. Here CPEC comes to play.  China with its potential to transform Xinjiang province, has largely invested in CPEC for infrastructural development where it is planned to connect Pakistan and China across the border through Xinjiang. Given this as the context, China’s alliance with Pakistan in terms of trading and development partner and investor is expecting a solution for the problem. Though the Uyghur grievances are likely to be resolved in the near or long-term, China will have to face the scene of further communal unrest in Xinjiang fuelled by cross-border terrorism operated from Central Asia and Pakistan.

  1. Baluchistan Insurgency

Baluchistan is a primary issue for Pakistan just like Xinjiang is for China. It is the biggest province of Pakistan whereas the population is sparse which is around 13.16 million[xvii]. However the troubles that people of Baluchistan face is almost similar to those of Xinjiang, ranging from discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity to negligence of the regional development. The natives of Baluchistan are an exclusive group in terms of ethnicity and linguistics and they are spread between Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. They have been the victims of marginalization within their respective countries throughout history and the Pakistani Baluch people used to fight against the federal government of Pakistan. The reasons for this insurgency can be traced back to historical conflicts including tribal divisions, the Baloch-Pashtun split, economic oppression and marginalization by Punjabi interests. In addition, construction of the Gwadar mega-port, oil revenues, the war in Afghanistan, continued repression by the Pakistani government like contemporary conflict drivers fueling the problem again.

The insurgency of the Baluchistan draw attention to history of more than 150 years of social, political, and economic oppression[xviii] which includes colonial subjugation, forcible annexation, the refusal of sub-state ethnic claims, interference in local affairs, and the inability of Islamabad to deliver genuine development. Among the reasons, Islamabad’s failure is perceived as the key to this issue. Thus the Pakistan government believes that the proposed CPEC would be an appropriate solution for the problem, the proposed Gwadar plan along with the increasing importance of natural gas revenues, and a renewed influx of Afghan refugees, which further complicated the situation. Moreover, the state’s harsh response to the current insurgency collaborated to a conflict spiral, making settlement less likely.

There are many ethnic and militant groups who are advocating independence whereas the problem started ever since Pakistan was formed, later increased during 2004-06 when major Baluch leader Akbar Bugti was killed by Pakistan force. Pakistan argues that India used its Intelligence force for making unrest in Baluchistan[xix]. The stability of Baluchistan is very important for Pakistan economy. Under the CPEC, many projects are ongoing there construction of highways and deep sea port in Baluchistan is the main parts of CPEC.  Separatists are targeting CPEC workers and militant groups killed dozens of workers who are working for CPEC project.

How Will CPEC Affect Pakistan’s Infrastructure Development

CPEC aims to connect Gwadar Port to Xinjiang through railways, roadways and energy pipelines. CPEC proposes a 3 folded roadway infrastructure namely Karakorum Highway, East Alignment and West Alignment. Karakorum roadway will be built between Pakistan-China border and the town of Buran- the road will be about 888 kilometers on an approximation .East Alignment roadways proposed through Sindh and Punjab which will be 1150 kilometer stretch of road connecting  two big cities in Pakistan – Karachi and Lahore. Baluchistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Western Punjab provinces are included in West Alignment[xx].

The cost of CPEC is approximately $ 64 billon[xxi]. An 11000 km of motor way costing $5.9 billion will be built between Karachi and Lahore- two major cities in Pakistan. In addition, Karakorum highway will connect from Rawalpindi to Chinese border. The Karachi Peshawar railway line will be upgraded to a speed of 120 km per hour by December 2019 and Pakistan railway line will be extended to Xinjiang province in China. In addition, a 27.1 km length Lahore metro is another important part of this project. The whole railway project investment is estimated as $3.9 billion. The upcoming Gwadar International Airport and such other peripheral developments in various fields like tourism, agriculture, etc are added advantages of the scheme.

Moreover, upgrading Gwadar Port also aims to address the energy concerns and energy infrastructure of Pakistan and put a bulk investment is in the energy sector. $15.5 billion worth investment in coal, wind, hydro energy projects will come in 2017 which will add 10,440 MW to national grid[xxii]. As the world is moving towards high investments into renewable and clean energy, Chinese investment in coal-fired power plants is being criticized. According to officials at the Water and Power Ministry, around $15 billion will be spent by Chinese companies over the next 15 years in this regard in the country. Pakistan has been facing shortage of power which affects Pakistan’s developments negatively. Thus Pakistan is trying to increase their production of energy up to 16,000MW by 2021. It will help to reduce power shortage of Pakistan by 4000-7000 MW. A $44 million worth optical cable between China and Pakistan will be the addition to this infrastructure setup[xxiii].

The details of major infrastructure developmental projects under CPEC are as follows[xxiv]:

  1. KKH phase 2 (Thakot -Havelian Section )

Karakoram highway Thakot-Havelian Section is 440 kilometers from Raikot to Islamabad. It will include bridges, culverts, and other facilities. Cost of Thakot -Havelian Section is $1305 million. It is located in Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber PakhtunKhwa. The responsibilities of Thakot -Havelian Section belong to the Ministry of Communication which is the proposing and supervising agency as well. The National Highway Authority of Pakistan is responsible for its implementation.

  1. Peshawar-Karachi Motorway (Multan-Sukkur Section)

The Peshawar-Karachi motorway is a 6 line highway with a total length of 11000 km located in Sindh Punjab Provinces of Pakistan. The estimated cost of this road stretch is $ 2,846 million and the project proposes a toll system. Its first phase cover the old Karachi to Hyderabad (136 km) highway and from Hyderabad to Sukkur phase (345 km) is a new alignment route. The third phase Sukkur- Multan section (392 km) follows the left bank of Indus. Multan-Sukkur section’s commercial agreement was signed on December 2015 and the work has started by 2016. It is expected to complete in 2017-18. Again, this is proposed and supervised by the Ministry of Communication, of Pakistan and the implementation is coming under National Highway Authority of Pakistan.

  1. Rail Sector Projects

Expansion and reconstruction of existing Line ML-1

The rehabilitation and upgradation of Karachi-Lahore-Peshawar railway line is about a 1872 km which will enable a speed up to 140 km/h in this route. This project is proposed by the Ministry of Pakistan Railways and supervised by Ministry of Communication, Government of Pakistan. This line passes through Hyderabad, Nawabshah, Rohri, RahimyarKhan, Bahawalpur, Khanewal, Sahiwal, Lahore, Gujrawala, Rwalpindi and Peshwa between Karachi to Peshawar.  The estimated cost of this project is 8,172 US dollar financed by GCL.

  1. Havelian Dry Port

The construction of Havelian Dry Port includes cargo handling facilities which is located on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan. This port (railway station) will facilitate high speed import and export of containers through railway. This station situated in 680 km away from Chinese border. Initially containers will come through road from China through Karakoram Highway to Havelian. Havelian Dry Port will provide the facilities for loading and unloading railway wagons and enable moving of such cargos in to indented destinations. Estimated cost of this project is $40 million.

As it is evident from the details furnished above, Pakistan is going to have abundance in the investment for infrastructural development. Thus Pakistan’s infrastructure development is projected to have an increase backed by CPEC. The proposed CPEC between Gwadar Port and Xinjiang along with its subsequent rail and pipelines will transport the technology and development also to Pakistan from China in response to the goods transportation from Gwadar port. Furthermore, Pakistan is going to get a strong support in border disputes against India and the developments in POK as a part of CPEC will make Pakistan domination more consistent in POK.

Agricultural Sector and Security Concerns under CPEC

Agriculture is a key factor of the CPEC project. China is the most populous country in the world, but it has very less arable land. Thus genetically modified crops are the only way to a sustainable future for China which means Pakistan will have to bear with China’s agricultural interest from farmer displacements till genetically modified crops. Consequently, Pakistan will become a market for agricultural produce of China and it will adversely affect local producers. Chinese enterprises will also control their own farms, fusing provision of seeds and other inputs such as fertilizers, credit and pesticides and processing facilities for fruits and vegetables and grain. Huge storage and transportation system for agrarian produce are there in the CPEC master plan. In short, Chinese enterprises will take the lead in each field.

The Chinese government hasn’t hesitated to use its money and effort to meet the needs of the ever expanding population the country. But China is a little hesitant when it comes to commercial genetically modified crops. The country issued its first license to a genetically modified crop in 1997 which was cotton and it is widely used now[xxv]. But since 2006, China has not approved any more genetically modified crops, after which China has confined genetically modified crops to the laboratory[xxvi]. Now China is going to pull out genetically modified crops from laboratory to the fields of Pakistan. It may adversely affect the Pakistan agricultural frame as genetically modified crops will result in removal of local seeds and cropping system and dependence on China for seeds and allied inputs like pesticides and fertilizers. The alarming fact is that China would like to use Pakistan’s field as an experimental laboratory for their genetically modified crops which can have negative health impacts as well on Pakistan.

China’s investment plans in Pakistan under CPEC have been questioned on the notion of internal and external securities. But the harsh truth of security risks in Pakistan is not actually addressed by China. After all, Chinese nationals in Pakistan have been targeted by extremists for many years. Taking Chinese apprehensions into consideration, Pakistani authorities have taken certain measures to assure the protection of Chinese workers involved in CPEC. A Special Security Division counting 9,000 army soldiers and 6,000 paramilitary forces personnel, has been assigned with the task of providing security for Chinese nationals and projects[xxvii]. Further, various types of CPEC security forces are in the making at provincial levels in Pakistan. For instance, the Punjab province government has its Special Protection Unit while the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government recently approved the formation of a 4,200 member security force[xxviii]. But the cost of maintaining such security forces coming in billions and millions of rupees are the burden of Pakistan. In that way, Pakistan is going to drain its economic strength while saying CPEC is fully funded by China.

However the way ahead is not so smooth enough for Pakistan as evident from the public and academia have become suspicious about the nature of agreements after the disclosure by Dawn on the Long-Term Plan (LTP). Strongly backed by lack of clarity about the loan terms and the capacity of Pakistan to repay the loans, the public discussion goes in a line that this increased burden will make Pakistan another de facto client state of China. In addition to CPEC induced displacements, there will be huge displacements of farmers as well in Pakistan as thousands of acres of farming land will be given on lease for agricultural experimentation by Chinese firms on long term lease and it will be used to promote food security for China. China would move out polluting industries and related technology to other countries such as Pakistan under CPEC like schemes. The list of apprehensions are not exhausting, there are also issues of environmental impact predominantly with the coal powered thermal plants. Furthermore it is reported that Chinese companies may also enjoy many tax and duty concessions which are not even available for Pakistani citizens. Like in the same way, cultural imposition by China such as compelled learning of Chinese language is also forecasted by researchers in the name of cultural relations.


Being the biggest importer of oil in the world, China is trying to benefit out of CPEC as more than 80% of oil coming from Middle East countries. This situation will contribute to Pakistan’s infrastructural development as a spillover effect. However, there are questions about the viability of CPEC in terms of cost effectiveness since land based transportation is generally high compared to sea transportation. Further, China will have to face a number of other internal issues like Xinjiang issue apart from external issues such as terrorism and cross border disputes and debates. However Pakistan may be successful with regard to CPEC which includes all dimensions of development, right from local transportation like Lahore Metro to cross border railway-roadway-energy pipelines. Nevertheless it cannot be ignored that the cost of these advantages for Pakistan may likely be the domination of China over Pakistan’s sovereignty.

India is in against CPEC as it passes through POK and China explicitly supports Pakistan in this regard. Upon that the dispute between India and China on border states like Arunachal Pradesh or Sikkim are not seeing any resolution on the horizon. In addition, militarization of Gwadar port either by China or by Pakistan will make serious disturbances in the future relation of these countries with India. This condition is actually an obstacle to smooth and secure use of CPEC.

End notes:

[i] Obert Kaplan, Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power,, 26 Oct 2010.

[ii] Matthew Caesar-Gordon, Securing the Energy Supply: China’s Malacca Dilemma,, 26 Feb 2016

[iii] Christopher Stanton, Does Chinese dominance of  the South China Sea matter if America has allies all around it,, 22 Jul 2016.

[iv] Catherine Zara Raymond, Piracy and Armed Robbery in the Malacca Strait, Naval War College Review, Summer 2009.

[v] Angshukanta Chakraborty, Is China colonising Pakistan? CPEC ‘master plan’ suggests bad news for India,, 17 May 2017.

[vi] Angshukanta Chakraborty, Is China colonising Pakistan? CPEC ‘master plan’ suggests bad news for India,, 17 May 2017

[vii] Angshukanta Chakraborty, Is China colonising Pakistan? CPEC ‘master plan’ suggests bad news for India,, 17 May 2017

[viii] Maj. Gen. (Retd) G D Bakshi , Chinas naval shadow on Indian ocean region challenges Delhi,, 08 Apr 2017.

[ix] Commodore R. S. Vasan IN (Retd.), The Unfolding Dimensions of Recent Developments in South China Sea,, 12 May 2016

[x] Haider Talat,  5 ways India going to be affected when CPEC changes world trade,, 23 Mar 2017.

[xi] Aljazeera News, China to open first overseas military base in Djibouti,, 12 Jul 2017.

[xii] Sutirtho Patranobis,  What PoK ? Join China Pak corridor for economic benefits,  Chinese media  to India, www.hindustantimes, 23 Mar 2017.

[xiii] Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, , CPEC-loving Pakistan needs to learn from  Beijing’s recent treatments of Muslims,, 14 Jun 2017.

[xiv] Asian Development Bank Report and Recommendation of the President to the Board of Directors, Proposed Loan People’s Republic of China: Xinjiang Regional Road Improvement Project (Korla–Kuqa Section),,  November 2007.

[xv] Sergei DeSilva Ranasinghe, Xinjiang Unrest a Long-Term Concern for China,, 2011.

[xvi] Adrien Morin, Is China’s Counterterrorism Policy in Xinjiang Working?,, 23 Feb 2017.

[xviii]Howard Brasted & Zahid Shahab Ahmed, The Political Economy of Pakistan’s ‘War on Terror’,, 2016.

[xix]Ahmad Kamal/ Xinhua/ Zuma Press, What is Pakistan’s Baluchistan insurgency and why is India’s Modi talking about it ,, 17 Aug2016.

[xx] Deloitte Reports, How will CPEC boost Pakistan economy?,, 2016.

[xxii]The News International Report, 12,568 MW electricity to be added to national grid by 2018,, 13 Jun 2016.

[xxiii]The News International Report, 12,568 MW electricity to be added to national grid by 2018,, 13 Jun 2016.

[xxiv] CPEC Project estimates official, CPEC Infrastructure Projects, 2017.

[xxv] Nic Cavell, China hates GMOs.   Problem is, China really needs GMOs,, 18 Feb 2016.

[xxvi] Nic Cavell, China hates GMOs. Problem is, China really needs GMOs,, 18 Feb 2016.

[xxviii] Abdur Rehman, How CPEC Security Will Test the ‘All-Weather Friendship’ of China and Pakistan,, 24 Jun 2017.


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[Muhammed Safwan A. is an Intern, C3S. He is a student of MA International Relations at the Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Madras, Chennai. He has carried out research on identified issues on China under the guidance of the members of C3S. The views expressed in this article however are of the author. He can be reached at]

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