CPEC And Pakistan-China Ties – OpEd

In today’s globalization process, the sources of risks have also diversified, necessitating a multi-faceted strategy to manage emerging difficulties. China thinks that a military approach to dealing with South Asian security concerns would further harm the interests of the region’s governments. As a result, the optimal strategy would be to emphasize the cultivation of economic, social, and cultural linkages, which would aid in resolving these problems in a non-military manner while promoting regional security. This is why China created the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and collaborated with Pakistan via the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Over many decades, the friendship tree between Pakistan and China has flourished. During the last seventy years, the leaders of both nations have cultivated it passionately and with a great sense of strategic commitment. They have weathered all of the peaks and valleys of their difficult journey while ignoring all regional and extra-regional influences. Complementing each other in all international venues, the nation’s leaders ensured, with their people’s backing, that this relationship developed into a solid tie.

Given the historical ramifications of regional conflicts and the harm inflicted by military actions, China has extended regional connectivity to encourage peaceful coexistence. The CPEC, a flagship BRI project rapidly approaching each of its milestones, is the most recent evidence of this commitment. Pakistan has seemed keen for a de facto transformation in its foreign policy since the launch of CPEC, a framework for regional connectivity and socioeconomic growth.

Pursuing national interests is the primary motivator of every state’s foreign policy, and this has been the case with Pakistan. Pakistan’s national interest has been to strive for security and economic growth throughout the last seventy years. As a result, Pakistan’s foreign policy has been guided by security and economic considerations.

With the start of CPEC, there has been a larger change in Pakistan’s foreign policy. The goals of CPEC are consistent with Pakistan’s foreign policy principles, which are as follows:

Develop friendly relations with all countries, particularly immediate neighbors
Safeguard national security and geostrategic interests, including Kashmir
Ensure the optimal use of national resources for regional and international cooperation

CPEC is not a bilateral initiative between China and Pakistan but will benefit the whole region. The rapid advancement of CPEC projects has altered the dimensions of Pakistan’s foreign policy with its neighbors and other regional governments. Pakistan’s improved security situation due to CPEC has made it an appealing location for foreign direct investment (FDI). Tajikistan, Iran, the United Kingdom, and others have indicated an interest in joining CPEC. Meanwhile, Pakistan has sent invitations to other countries to join CPEC.

CPEC has witnessed significant advancements in recent years. It is crucial to highlight that the building of CPEC projects has been going smoothly and in line with the plan, despite the fact that information on China’s funding for Pakistani projects under the CPEC during the last year is not yet accessible. The implementation and progressive completion of a number of infrastructure projects have been ongoing since the CPEC program’s formal debut in 2013.

As of September 2021, the 22 targeted projects in the first phase of the CPEC, which are aimed at addressing significant obstacles impeding Pakistan’s economic growth, energy shortages, and a lack of transportation infrastructure, have been completed. The overall capacity of energy projects completed under the CPEC reached 5.32 million kilowatts in 2022, significantly reducing Pakistan’s power supply constraints.

In addition, other significant infrastructure projects included in the first phase of the CPEC, the Gwadar Port, the Orange Line Rail Transit Project in Lahore, the Karakoram Highway Phase II Project, and the Cross-Border Fiber Optic Cable Project between China and Pakistan, are also very important for advancing Pakistan’s economic development.

The construction of the CPEC program has actually entered a new stage of high-quality development with the gradual completion of these projects that provide a quick return on investment, with the emphasis now being on how to give Pakistan more momentum and support to achieve self-driven economic development. For instance, in order to assist Pakistan in creating a self-sufficient agricultural production system, collaboration and appropriate agricultural technology sharing are crucial in addition to Chinese aid when it comes to the country’s food crisis issue.

In order to assist Pakistan in advancing its levels of development in manufacturing and agriculture and make it easier for it to engage in the global division of labor, the next phase’s new emphasis will gradually turn towards enhancing industrial and agricultural cooperation between the two nations.

In fact, following years of infrastructure development, this is also a crucial path for the Belt and Road Initiative suggested by China. In the case of Pakistan, the CPEC’s next phase will likely provide employment opportunities and significantly strengthen the country’s economic foundation.

Naturally, it must be noted that Pakistan has a variety of difficulties in terms of the economy and other concerns. In addition to its low central bank-held foreign currency reserves, the nation needs help paying off significant amounts of external debt. Yet its crucial financial rescue negotiations with the IMF are still in limbo. In addition, the current deterioration of the economic crisis has compounded Pakistan’s security position. The challenging circumstances, which may have unavoidably harmed the CPEC, once again highlight how crucial economic growth is for the nation. A healthy economy is a foundation for solving all kinds of significant social and political concerns. Economic and commercial cooperation between China and Pakistan is now more crucial and required than ever at this time of crisis.

The CPEC initiative is crucial to the two nation’s economic and commercial cooperation and involves substantial economic interests. The creation of a large-scale initiative like the CPEC is always complex. Hence, overcoming hurdles unquestionably involves ongoing efforts from both parties. The key is to increase stability and promote economic expansion via collaboration.

Above all, efforts by India or other Western nations to disparage and undermine CPEC and the deeper relations between China and Pakistan cannot and will not succeed. The planned collaboration between China and Pakistan be carried out firmly and systematically.