CPEC and Blessings of Chinese Connection: The Way Forward | By Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan


The Indian lobby, mass media outlets and brigades of social media have once again launched systematic media propaganda against China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) role, utility and future in Pakistan.


The sponsored TIKTOKERS in the country are supporting the Indian false and fake campaigns against CPEC, so-called widening gap between Pakistan and China and widespread resentment among the various factions of society in Balochistan and Gwadar. Even the US and G7 countries are diplomatically pressurizing the Government of Pakistan to step back from China and discard the CPEC. Moreover, the Indian lobby and mass media are trying to portray Pakistan as a failed state with imminent “default” due to which most of the mega projects of the CPEC have been somehow stalemated.


The ongoing political disharmony and societal polarization have badly damaged perception of national economy which is in dire need of inflow of FDIs, FPIs, Joint Ventures, increase in worker remittances, stability in currency, money and secondary markets so that the proposed and approved projects in the CPEC Phase-II would be started as soon as possible. But unfortunately, political grimace and lust for absolute power has now blocked the path of stability, peace and harmony and the destination of economic sustainability is now a far cry.


In this prevailing doom and gloom, China has once again come forward to give hand to Pakistan in order to achieve some kind of economic stability and social harmony. In this regard, Wang Yi, Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC) met with Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on the sidelines of the 59th Munich Security Conference and assured his country’s full support to government of Pakistan and its people alike.  He reiterated his country’s full support to Pakistan, adding the administration in Beijing was willing to help officials in Islamabad “overcome the temporary difficulties” faced by Pakistan in these days.


Unfortunately, Pakistan is currently facing complex and complicated issues related to national security (rebirth, regrouping and resurgence of the TTP, launching series of deadly terrorist activities in the country), politics (unending desire for absolute domination has destroyed fate of common people) and economy which is at its lowest ebb. IMF conditions are creating havoc in the country and common people are now at the receiving end in terms of 36.4 percent of inflation, 117 percent increase in gas charges, phenomenal rise in utilities and petrol prices, price hike, sky rocketing surge in common commodities and above all huge currency depreciation.


Wang Yi assured China’s firm support to Pakistan in maintaining security and stability as well as achieving development and revitalization and stands ready to provide assistance to the best of its ability to help Pakistan overcome temporary difficulties. He termed bilateral ties as strategic in nature and reaffirmed his country’s support to Pakistan and CPEC.


On his part, the Pakistani Foreign Minister stressed that China was an important pillar of Pakistan’s foreign policy, adding the strengthening of relations with China and promoting the construction of a joint economic corridor were crucial. He assured Pakistan’s resolve against terrorism and protection of Chinese enterprises and citizens in Pakistan. After the said meeting Pakistan’s Foreign Minister labeled strategic partnership between the two neighbors vital for regional peace and stability.


During his most recent visit to Pakistan, the US State Department Counsellor Derek Chollet purposefully tarnished the CPEC projects in the country and showed concerns about debt owed to China by Pakistan and other countries. According to him, China and Chinese commercial banks held about 30 percent of Pakistan’s total external debt of about $100 billion, according to a report by the International Monetary Fund released in September last year which is absolutely “incorrect” and “untrue”. In this connection, the Federal Finance Ministry, the SBP, SECP and many other official regulatory authorities have already “negated” the US fabricated stance about so-called surge in the Chinese debts.


Cholett also showed the Washington’s hidden desire to further strengthen bilateral relations with Pakistan. Relations between Islamabad and Washington had turned worse over the war in Afghanistan, but there has been a thaw in recent months, with an increasing number of high-level visits. Chollet said the US was working with Pakistan to navigate through the current crisis. In this economic meltdown, the CPEC Phase-II will be a catalyst to Pakistan’s massive industrial development. It will be a stimulator to pursue the development of renewables and the hydropower energy production in the country. Furthermore, projects of social development, health-capacity building, agriculture development and last but not the least, vast network of Special Economic Zones would be value addition of the CPEC Phase-II in the country.


Pakistan’s annual plan for (2022-23) states that the CPEC Phase-II will emphasize industrialization and development of Special Economic Zones, agriculture modernization, science and technology cooperation, promotion of ICT-enabled environment and establishment of IT and high-technology zones and socio-economic development. It is estimated that the country’s GDP will increase by 6.43 percent until 2030 as a result of infrastructure investment. According to the World Bank report (2019) social welfare development from the CPEC Phase-II would increase by 10.51 percent. Consequently, it will also help lift 1.1 million people out of extreme poverty. It has also potential to boost the employment opportunities and Pakistan may get four million new jobs. Trade will also witness an increase of 9.8 percent, if Pakistan implements the CPEC and support it by required reforms.


According to many published reports, CPEC has so far created 75,000 new jobs for Pakistan. It means 75,000 families have benefited and which has enabled them to combat extreme poverty. On the other hand, CPEC also helped Pakistan manage the load-shedding which, in turn, contributed to control the annual loss of $4 to 5 billion. Moreover, energy development under the flagship of CPEC also contributes to tackle issues of aging plants and infrastructure related to electricity. It has been one of the key economic drivers of Pakistan’s macro-economy due to which the efficiency and productivity of the energy sector has been further increased. Hopefully, further investment in CPEC Phase-II in power, gas and petroleum sectors will enhance its potential and production capacity.


Moreover, transport infrastructure is another important sector which contributed to overcome problems of connectivity. Many national, regional as well as international reports confirm that CPEC power plants are the most efficient in Pakistan. Larger numbers of the small and medium enterprises also benefited from the investments of CPEC in the country. The contribution of the CPEC to national GDP was almost two percent due to which Pakistan surpassed the level of 5.8 percent GDP growth rate in 2018. According to many reports of the World Bank, the major beneficiaries in Pakistan in future would be Quetta, Peshawar, Karachi and Lahore.


To conclude, the earlier initiation of the CPEC Phase-II is the need of the hour. Agriculture development, rigorous green industrialization and development of Special Economic Zones, science and technology cooperation, artificial intelligence cooperation, digitalization, ICT development and last but not the least health cooperation will further strengthen bilateral relation in the days to come.


There is an urgent need to jointly work for further development of small, medium and mega hydropower projects in the country which would provide cheap energy for economic development.  Moreover, sincere efforts should also be initiated to jointly work for the development of “Green Hydrogen” energy projects in the country under the flagship projects of CPEC Phase-II.

Most recently, China has started the world’s largest project producing green hydrogen in Ordos, north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Green hydrogen is “green” because it is produced from renewables, such as solar and wind resources, without emitting carbon dioxide.

Pakistan-China should also work for converting deserts into green lash fields through new technologies so that it would be mutually beneficial for them in the days to come.