Beijing - China has picked a dam project in northern Pakistan as the first investment project of its $40 billion Silk Road infrastructure fund as President Xi Jinping looks to expand the country’s influence across three continents.

The fund will become a shareholder of China Three Gorges South Asia Investment which will construct the Karot dam on the Jhelum river, said a statement on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website on Tuesday.

Total investment in the project will be $1.65 billion, said the People’s Bank of China.

The Karot dam will be located in Rawalpindi. The dam was a “great match” between the development strategies of the two nations and a priority project in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, China’s central bank said in its statement.

The 720-megawatt dam would take about six years to build, according to project documents filed by the World Bank’s International Finance Corp, which is investing S$125 million in China Three Gorges South Asia Investment.

The project would generate 75 per cent of its energy during the summer months when water flow in the Jhelum river was at its highest, the documents show.

China Three Gorges Corp, the Beijing-based developer of the world’s largest dam, was expected to become Pakistan’s biggest clean-energy company with plans for $5.5 billion of hydropower, solar and wind projects totalling more than 2,000 megawatts in capacity, said the International Finance Corp, which is part of the World Bank Group.

Pakistan requires as much as $20 billion in investments over the next five years to overcome a 10,000-megawatt shortfall in power capacity, it said.