CPEC, the biggest ever overseas investment by China, is a 3000 km long route that comprises of highways, railways and pipelines to link Gwadar (a port city on the south-western coast of Balochistan) with Kashgar (a city in Xinjiang province of China). China has been working for economic development and global relationship building since decades. To achieve this objective, China provided economic assistance to South East Asian countries during the economic and financial crisis.

The President of China has given his foreign policy a new direction by initiating “constructive engagement” policy and pursued the idea through the Silk Road, an international trade route between China and Mediterranean, for which many experts believe that China is not only promoting international trade through the silk road but also enhancing its geopolitical role in the world. “String of pearls”, a term used for a series of seaports, construction of Djibouti base are some of the examples. So, China is basically moving with the aim of promoting economic development and enhancing its global role by building relations with developing countries. CPEC is thus the part of this policy. Pakistan and China have been friends since 1950, helping each other in difficult times. Pakistan helped China to connect to the world by opening its air space for Chinese Airlines. Pakistan supported China in becoming member of UN Security Council.

China helped Pakistan during the war of 1965 and supported Pakistan in military missile and nuclear program even during the sanctions imposed by USA. CPEC is a result of this long-lasting relationship between two countries. CPEC is important for China because it links China directly to the Indian Ocean and Middle East through the Gwadar port. Being closer to the Strait of Hormuz, an oil shipping lane, the Gwadar port will be beneficial for China in reducing its transportation costs from the West Asian region due to decrease in the distance from 12000km to 3000km. CPEC will also open doors to number of economic opportunities for Pakistan. CPEC will help Pakistan in improving its infrastructure and meeting its energy demands. Pakistan is facing a serious energy problem. The country’s power generation capacity is 23,538 MW. With its growing demand for energy according to WPDA, the demand will reach 40,000 MW by 2020. Under this project China will invest US$34 billion on energy communication and industrial development and US$11 billion on infrastructure development. The project is expected to add 10,400 MW electricity by 2017.

The total electricity the project will add to the national grid of country will be 17,000 MW. Also the project is estimated to create 700,000 jobs by 2030 and will speed up GDP Growth. So, CPEC is equally important for both Pakistan and China. It will provide China a secure route to access the middle-east and Africa through Gwadar by reducing its journey from 12000km to 3000km and at the same it will contribute to the economic development of Pakistan.

SYEDA RABIA SHAH,

Karachi, November 4.