by Ali Abbas 12 June 2022
In the contemporary era the transformation of International Politics from traditional power politics to economic integration has changed the nature of the states. A cooperative and economic atmosphere and all-inclusive economic activities and engagements have cemented the way to avoid traditional rivalries and power politics among countries. The relationship between China and Pakistan is the same way of economic integration and collaboration under the umbrella of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). In 2013, President Xi Jinping announced the world’s most significant infrastructure development plan termed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). CPEC is the one of the most important economic corridor for both China and Pakistan as a geo-economic plan in the region. CPEC has a unique quality of connection through land and maritime Silk Road, and it connects from Pakistan’s Gwadar port to China’s ancient city of Kashghar.
The 55 billion USD planned projects and heavy investments range from Gwadar deep-sea port to networks of roads, oil and gas pipelines, railway tracks, dams, airports and special economic zones. In 21st century, this economic integration will bring the development, economic prosperity and political stability to both countries and as well as to the region. CPEC is expected to enlarge and expand to provide inter-connectivity with Iran, Afghanistan, and the Central Asian Republics. Actually, the Central Asian states are landlocked they always look for regional countries like Pakistan, China for business and sea transit routes. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will definitely offer them the occasion to transport their products and engage in economic integration with regional states.
Similarly, Pakistan has also long desired to connect the central Asian region via Afghanistan to meet its energy needs and export its products. In the diplomatic history of China and Pakistan bilateral relationship, it’s the first time China has provided an enormous investment with a number of projects. This move reflects that a new relationship era has started between two all-weather allies to make their relations more economic oriented by concentrating on energy collaboration, trade, and investments. Pakistan can cultivate more economic relations with its neighbors for sharing energy and economic activity. The sectors connected to the economic corridor will experience a major economic improvement. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has potential to further promote the relationship between two countries both in economic and public level which can also change the geopolitics of South Asian region. The rich economic integration has paved a way for Pakistan to improve its economic status and recover from its financial losses. This inclusive economic partnership will transform Pakistan into an economic and financial center and strengthen her path to development and economic prosperity. Undoubtedly, the significance, vision, and importance of economic integration under the CPEC is unmatchable. In Pakistan it has got the status of fate changer or can say game changer in the political, public and media discourses. The leadership of both have committed to complete this project and will confirm the quick development of Gwadar deep sea port. In 2013, the Gwadar sea port was handed over to a Chinese state owned enterprise since it has been increasing into a full-fledged commercial port. CPEC consider as a major gateway by linking China, Middle East and African continent. All transit trade, business and economic activities will definitely benefit Pakistan. The investment in energy projects will help Pakistan overcome its energy needs mainly in energy infrastructure development, building its capacity, and establishing different networks. Pakistan is now already benefiting and likely to be self-sufficient with these huge energy projects. Furthermore, the infrastructure development and development of the communication sector by constructing and building highways and rail networks will open new economic doors for Pakistan to create and make huge foreign investments and transform the country into a potential global market. Pakistan can position itself as an economic hub in the South Asian region by motivating all neighboring and regional nations to use the transit route under the China-Pakistan Economic corridor to expand their trade across the Middle East region, Africa, and even Europe.
Figure.1 Highways Network of CPEC
Source: CPEC Official website: http://cpec.gov.pk/map-single/1
China’s economic and peaceful rise has become an Asian power in particular and global power in general. China focuses on regional and global economic integration. The most important is the diversification of trade routes has developed as main factor in the international economic cooperation. CPEC has both economic and strategic significance for China and Pakistan, the Gwadar deep sea port provides safe and smooth access of China to Arabian Sea. The relationship between Pakistan and China deepens beyond the government to government level. Many companies, business communities, and banks are involved under CPEC projects to accomplish their duties and economic cooperation. Such as Asian development bank, China Development bank, and Industrial and Commercial bank of China. ICBC has also branches in four major cities of Pakistan and Habib bank Ltd has also got license from China to open its branch in the country. Pakistani business communities and private companies have direct relations and interactions with their Chinese colleagues. The main sectors involved under the CPEC include infrastructure development, cooperation in the energy sector, Gwadar deep-sea port, social sector development, and companies, banks, and firms. Pakistan loss its economy due to its energy crisis, the economic corridor will strengthen the economy of Pakistan and its will increase China’s economic cooperation and presence in region. Some energy projects have been completed now they are fulfilling the energy requirements of Pakistan. The CPEC has put Pakistan on a new route of great economic growth through infrastructure development The success of this economic integration depends on regional security situation. In order to get maximum benefit from this mega project and bilateral economic integration Pakistani leadership should minimize their domestic differences and work together with their Chinese counterparts to generate a healthy environment for economic activities in the region. Recently, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said in an interview with CGTN that “the relationship between and China is not political, its people to people connection and these stronger ties are getting deeper. No matter what will be the political situation, Pakistan will not takes side and our relationship with China is not going to change.” The bilateral partnership between China and Pakistan will increase and expand to all other sectors in near future. Together, both nations will achieve economic prosperity and teach the world peace and stability through economic integration and cooperation.