What is CPEC?
  • The China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (also known as CPEC and North-South economic corridor) is an all-weather economic corridor comprising a collection of projects currently under construction at a cost of $54 billion.
  • CPEC aims to facilitate trade along an overland route that connects Kashgar (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China) and Gwadar (Balochistan, Pakistan), through the construction of a network of highways, railways, optical fiber and pipelines.
  • It is considered to be an extension of China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road initiative, and the importance of CPEC to China is reflected by its inclusion as part of China’s 13th five-year development plan.
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How will it transform Pakistan?
  1. Investing in infrastructure development will create job opportunities. So the employment scenario will be improved.
  2. Development of Gwadar port and its connectivity with the hinterlands will  increase the share of Pakistan in world trade.
  3. Local business will benefit and a new way to development will be opened.
  4. Diversion of youth towards employment will surely reduce radical insurgency in the region.
  5. CPEC can also help in keeping nation united in situation of grave sectarian crisis.

Positives for India:
  1. Peaceful and  prosperous united Pakistan is better than two-three divided mini-Pakistan for India’s safe and steady progress.
  2. Pakistan commitments to China will put pressure on its government to demolish fundamentalism, leading to peace there.
  3. China will try to protect its economic and strategic investment in CPEC and thus will try to maintain peace.
Negatives for India:
  1. POK, an Indian territory will used in CPEC, it is a challenge to sovereignty of India.
  2. Chinese naval vessels will frequently confront Indian Naval vessels due to Gwadar Port.
  3. Influence of China and Pakistan will increase in Afghanistan bad for India’s investments there.
India will have diplomatic and economic benefits like:
  1. Less US influence and intervention in south Asia which will strengthen India’s position in region.
  2. CPEC can be linked to Silk route in central Asia which will open markets for India
  3. India can openly & easily engage with Vietnam and other ASEAN nations to counter-weight Chinese moves in India Ocean.
What is the debate around CPEC?
  • Critics are highlighting the burgeoning costs of keeping the corridor secure. According to them, it is unlikely that China will change its supportive attitude on the CPEC in the short term, but the increasing cost of security is becoming a big problem in efficiently pushing forward the project.
  • But, supporters view the CPEC as a project that can result in the emergence of a stable Pakistan. In turn, that would yield a major geostrategic prize, as it could disrupt the spread of extremism in the region, through which China’s ambitious One Belt, One Road will pass.
What are the strategic implications for Pakistan?
  • Upgrade of infrastructure on the Lahore-Karachi railway helping to make exports more competitive in terms of travel time and transport costs and the development of the Pakistan’s road, air and port infrastructure to transport goods
  • Will provide Central Asian states access to Pakistan’s deepwater ports by completely bypassing Afghanistan – a country which has been ravaged by civil war and political instability since the late 1970s. 
  • Will remove the energy shortages which will lead to complete industrialistion of Pakistan’s economy from the current semi-industrialised economy – this will make the country more attractive for foreign investment in a variety of sectors.
  • Increased economic growth would result in stabilization of Pakistan’s security situation
What are the strategic implications for China?
  • China stands to gain an alternative route for trade rather than the South China sea, with shorter distance and time saving transport costs (reduced by 9000 km).
  • Current sea routes used to import Middle Eastern oil are through regions in dispute with its neighbours and are frequently patrolled by the United States’ Navy. Choke points like the Straits of Mallacca – could be used as a leverage in case of a conflict.
  • There will be improved connectivity to the restive Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
  • Indian maritime surveillance in the Andaman Sea has diminshed the applicability of other strategies like the Kyaukpyu Port (Myanmar) and the proposed Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Corridor (BCIM), and thereby increasing Chinese interest in CPEC.
What are the strategic implications for India?
  • India has expressed fears of a Chinese string of pearls encircling it – and there is concern that the CPEC may also be motivated by the strategic intent of besieging India should a conflict arise in the region.
  • India finds projects passing through Gilgit-Baltistan (Pakistani-administered side of Kashmir) unacceptable as they require construction in the claimed territory.
  • India signed a series of agreements with Iran regarding the Port of Chabahar, speculated as a counter to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. As per the Afghanistan–Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, Afghan goods can be transited across Pakistan for export to India as well, though Indian goods cannot be exported to Afghanistan via Pakistan. Upon completion of Chabahar, Indian exporters will benefit from the potential ability to export goods to Afghanistan.
  • The Chabahar plan relies upon connections to the Afghan Ring Road connecting Chabahar to Kandahar and Kabul. However, these routes traverse southern and eastern Afghanistan, where the Taliban is most active.
Issue: China stonewalled India’s move to ban Masood Azhar at UN

Though, China also is a victim of terrorism in Xinjiang and it has given firm assurances on terrorism at multilateral forums, still it seen that China is not ‘walking the talk’. China’s move which prevented JeM chief Masood Azhar’s ban at the UN is open acknowledgment to it.

China is blocking India’s move due to following reasons:

1. Pakistan Factor: China’s engagement with Pakistan has highly increased in recent times, be it nuclear cooperation, CPEC or defence cooperation. In this scenario, China is doing every possible thing to guard its ally completely ignoring its terror activities. 

2. Insecurity: China has troubled boundary disputes in South China Sea and east and is always wary of India’s engagement there and thus it uses such issues to indirectly show its dominance at international forums.

India can deal more effectively with Pakistan based terrorists in the light of China’s non-cooperation in following manner:

  1. PM’s recent successful visits to UAE and Saudi Arabia which are Pakistan’s traditional allies and their support in counter terror operations is a step in right direction to isolate Pakistan on the issue of terrorism. 
  2. India must press for reforms at UN highlighting such irresponsible behaviour by world powers. 
  3. India must learn from the incident and future proposals must try to create a world opinion not allowing China to go against it. 
  4. India must seek cooperation from western countries like France, Belgium, USA which are also victims of terrorism. 
  5. At the core, India must tighten up its security apparatus to prevent Pathankot like attacks.
Why China did that?
Ensuring Pakistan’s intelligence services remain on its side is essential, as Beijing sees it, to containing the threat from across the Karakorum — and blocking Indian efforts to nail Azhar is a very small favour to an important partner.
Related questions :
  • “The development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is not necessarily bad for India or the region.” Critically comment. (200 Words)

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