KSA, Pakistan, and China: The CPEC Trinity

Image credit: Centre for Strategic and Contemporary Research

by Asia Maqsood     8 November 2018

KSA adds great strength to the CPEC project, as being the 3rd Strategic Partner

Although Pakistan and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have shared long-lasting cooperative and a brotherly relationship built mainly on mutual religious beliefs, yet in international politics, nations choose to chase their own interests. Pakistan and KSA have supported each other in the hours of need and their cordial relations are strengthening with the passage of time. Moreover, the contemporary geo-economics also interprets KSA’s investment in CPEC as perhaps one of its strategies to diversify its economy.

Pakistan’s newly elected Government has brought a significant gift to its homeland after Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first official foreign tour to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) on 20th September 2018. Pakistan’s Information and Broadcasting Minister, Fawad Chaudhary announced that KSA will be the third strategic partner of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of China’s mega-development project “Belt and Road Initiative”. He added, Saudi Arabia is expected to bring massive direct investments to the project.”

KSA would invest $10 billion in CPEC which may prove a catalyst for the speedy completion of several projects under CPEC. The government of Saudi Arabia has signed three grant agreements with Pakistan to finance three road infrastructure and energy projects under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
A visiting Saudi delegation “showed an interest to immediately invest in the refinery,” Pakistani Petroleum Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said. “This has been agreed from both sides.” The agreement is set to be signed between the Pakistan State Oil company and Riyadh’s state oil giant Saudi Aramco.”

This proclamation has not only emphasized the inclusive nature of the CPEC project but also set an example and paved way for more foreign countries to invest in Pakistan. KSA is the leading country of GCC, it could be one of the possibilities that the other Gulf countries, which apparently have not any dispute with Pakistan, may attract to invest in CPEC protecting their interests whether socio-economic and trade. China could have no reluctance to include other Gulf States in CPEC project because the ultimate purpose of China’s BRI is to connect Asia with Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. This may prove a catalyst for the Foreign Direct Invest FDI in Pakistan and may have brighter possibilities for multiple business contracts with multiple countries in near future.

Is KSA interested in CPEC for keeping an eye on Iran?

These developments have huge significance for Pakistan. KSA’ regional opponent, Iran may have some security concerns regarding KSA’s involvement in CPEC as its Chabahar Port is just 72 KM away from the Gwadar Port: KSA would have an opportunity to keep a check on the activities of Iran on Chabahar Port because of its geographical proximity with Gwadar Port. In this context, as KSA and the US are enjoying smooth relations with each other, US could get an access; check on Iran’s activities through cooperation with KSA. Now, the question arises what kind of India’s apprehensions of India regarding KSA’ S investment in CPEC may arise?
It is pertinent to remind here that since Pakistan and China have started to work on CPEC, India is overtly opposing this project claiming that CPEC route passes through the disputed area (northern area) between India and Pakistan. The US has supported India’s stance on this project.

This is truly a development project; India’s opposite stance is baseless as the people of the disputed areas (claimed by India) have every right of better standards of living like others. As far as the world’s disputed areas are concerned, there are such examples where the developmental work has been done such as last year Philippines released photographs of the construction of structures by Chinese vessels in disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea during ASEAN Summit in Vientiane. India beefed up its concerns against Chinese sponsored China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Will the disputes between or among countries obstruct the overall development of the region and the populace residing in those areas?

Hence, KSA-Pak $10billion deal has added a great strength to CPEC project and may provide a good countermeasure against India’s nefarious views on CPEC. Even Russia has shown its support for the CPEC as well as many other countries. The contemporary regional geopolitics of South Asia is capturing a relatively more powerful picture of Pakistan on the world map. It indicates t