The decision to make Pakistan a partner in Chinese Belt and Road Initiative Program and the announcement of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a well-calculated move by China. At a time when Pakistan was struggling to manage its economy, it was easy for our western neighbour to fall for the Chinese trap. Chinese motives cannot be ignored when we talk of CPEC so when Chinese Premier Xi Xinping announced the creation of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) while on a visit to Pakistan, he had some ulterior motives in his mind.Also Read - Chinese Scientists To Investigate Mysterious 'Hut' Spotted on the Moon
1. Firstly, the Dragon wanted to develop an alternative trade route via the Arabian Sea to reduce dependency on the vulnerable Indian Ocean-Malacca Strait route. The new route will be much cheaper and China will save huge money on account of transportation. Also Read - RT-PCR Test, Mandatory Quarantine: How These States Brace to Tackle Omicron Variant | Full List Here
2. China was facing a dearth of human capital as a result of its ‘One-Child Policy’. Since Pakistan’s economy was already on the verge of collapse and unemployment was at the peak, China wanted to use Pakistan’s crumbling infrastructure and by leveraging Chinese Capital & Production capacities with ultra-cheap Pakistani Labour intends to create another pillar of Chinese Economic Growth. Also Read - US, EU Express Concern at China's 'Problematic Actions' in Asia Pacific
3. As China was already eying the lucrative European market, in line of that strategy, it started developing its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and CPEC acted as one of the offshoots of BRI.
4. Since China was facing a rebellion among Uighur Muslims- it was most likely that hardliner elements in Pakistan would have acted as sympathisers and could provide training or logistics support to Uighur organisations in Xinjiang. By initiating CPEC, China effectively brought Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) and other terror sympathisers on its side.
5. China wanted to have its military presence felt in the Arabian Sea. Though it already has a strong military base in Djibouti, it is isolated and not connected to China through land routes. It is maintained through Air or Sea. In case of a naval blockade in the Indian Ocean, China was unable to sustain this base and hence needed an alternative, which it was getting in Pakistan for no extra cost.
6. Lastly, as the CPEC is connected to Western China, Dragon will be able to develop this part of its country to explore its resources well.
It has been more than seven years since the CPEC was announced. The initial budget including all contingencies was 46 Billion USD which has risen to more than 87 Billion USD as on date according to a report in the Jerusalem Post. That too with the fact that this project was to be fully completed and commissioned in 15 years but at the middle of it (after seven and half years today), less than 25 per cent of the work is completed.
While the cost of the remaining projects is increasing day by day, recent acts of Baloch Freedom Fighters in Sindh & Baluchistan are making the task more difficult. Interestingly, more than 60 Billion USD have already been loaned by China for the meagre work completed. This is a clear example of how Military controlled Pakistani regime is engulfed in large scale corruption, no accountability, cost overruns and a total failure of the program. Today no one can question this in Pakistan as all the senior functionaries of various projects of CPEC are Army Generals.
The future is bleak. Pakistan’s external debts have risen to 110% of its Gross Domestic Project (GDP) while the current military-sponsored government is busy taking more loans at landslide interest rates. We may see the total fall of the economy in the next few years.
(Author, Major Amit Bansal is is a Defence Strategist with keen interests in International Relations and Internal Security. He is also an author, blogger and poet.)
[Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of India.com. The writer is solely responsible for any claims arising out of the contents of this article.]