China-Pakistan Energy Corridor-its Ramifications

  1. Mindful of the underdevelopment of its western provinces which are its soft belly, China wants its speedy modernization to bring them at par with more developed eastern provinces. For this purpose, China needs to connect them with its national railroad network on the one hand and their access to the Arabian Sea through Gwadar on the other.
  2. For China, it is part of more ambitious plans to beef up the country’s global economic muscle as part of a broader policy — “One Belt, One Road” — which seeks to physically connect China to its markets in Asia, Africa, and Europe and beyond. Connecting China to its markets in Asia, Africa, Europe, and beyond, the New Silk Road will link China with Europe through Central Asia and the Maritime Silk Road thus ensuring a safe passage of China’s shipping through the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. CPEC will be a crucial link in this multi-billion network.
  3. Linking China with nearly half of the population of the world, CPEC will enable China’s naval warships and merchant ships to bypass Malacca Strait. Presently passing through the Strait of Malacca, Chinese cargo takes 45 days to reach destinations in Europe via the Middle East. Once Gwadar port is fully functioning, this time will be reduced to less than half.
  4. It will not only provide China an easy, short, convenient, and extremely cost-effective access to the Indian Ocean to further her economic and trade interests but will be a force multiplier for her geopolitical ambitions Development of Gwadar seaport and improvement of the infrastructure in the hinterland would help China sustain its permanent naval presence in the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea.
  5. At the same time, the new silk roads are bound to intensify ongoing competition between India and China –and to a lesser extent between China and the US — to invest in and cultivate influence in the broader Central Asian region. Gwadar port is one of China’s String of Pearls planned by China in Central, South, and Southeast Asia to expand its political and economic influence and get these regions in its grip. The US has its pivot to Asia, to contain China’s economic and military expansion in the Asia-Pacific.

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Shahid Hussain Raja

Shahid Hussain Raja

Retired Federal Secretary, Government of Pakistan/Author/Independent Consultant- Public Policy & Governance Reforms