CPEC & chessboard of regional power politics | By Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan


CPEC & chessboard of regional power politics

CHINA-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project of One Belt One Road Initiative (BRI).

It is meant to “accelerate” socio-economic prosperity, massive industrialization, vast network of Special Economic Zones (SEZs), infrastructural development and last but not the least, digitalization.

Moreover, it is meant to “eradicate” poverty, unemployment, shortage of skilled labour and, of course, attract more and more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) through the ideal combination of “public-private” partnership.

But unfortunately, the chessboard of regional power politics has made an alliance of “obstruction”, “destruction” and “devastation” against Pak-Sino friendship and, of course, CPEC.

On its part, right from the beginning, China strongly “refuted” suggestions and allegations to have hidden military designs of CPEC.

Beijing pledged to invest about $62 billion in Pakistan by 2030 to develop ports, highways, motorways, railways, airports, power plants and other infrastructure in the neighbouring country, traditionally a strong ally

. In this connection, most of the mega projects of energy and infrastructural development have been completed.

Some hydropower projects are being carried out which would produce “cheap” and “pollution” free energy enabling Pakistan to achieve the optimal goal of carbon “neutral” position in the country.

The Chinese also expanded and operationalized the Pakistani deep water port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea, which is at the heart of massive bilateral cooperation.

According to the latest news, the government has now decided to fully “operationalize” the Gwadar Seaport which would be a “value-addition” in the macro-economy of Pakistan.

Western media has been propagating that Gwadar Seaport is not rooted in trade, giving China a quicker route to get goods to the Arabian Sea, but it also gives Beijing a strategic “wild-card” to play against India and the USA if tension worse to the point of naval blockades as the two powers increasingly confront each other at sea.

Moreover, formation of “Asian Quad” is another “strategic move” of the US and its strategic allies in the region, especially India to encircle China.

Nevertheless, foreign office of China repeatedly clarified about BRI and CPEC true aims and objectives which do not have any kind of “military” or “ill strategic design” against any country in the region and beyond.

Even Chinese Foreign Office welcomed the United States and India to “come to the CPEC project” and “witness the progress on the ground” for themselves, saying it will enable them to overcome misunderstanding.

But still both countries are in a state of “denial”, “disbelief” and “disorientation” and have been twisting the facts just to “malign” Pakistan and China in the larger context of the chessboard of regional power politics.

Time and again Chinese officials showcased CPEC total transparency and accountability. They have been upholding that it does not have any hidden agenda.

The Chinese side responded to concerns expressed in Washington and New Delhi that Beijing could try to turn Gwadar into a military port in the future to try to dominate the Indian Ocean.

China strongly rejected all these “baseless” accusations of the Western media “perpetuated” by the US, EU and India.

On its part, most recently, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak again clarified that CPEC did not have any military designs, rather the mega project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) aimed at economic development of the region.

Talking to his Belarusian counterpart, Lt-Gen Viktor Khrenin on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Defence Ministers conference in Dushanbe, Tajikistan Khattak reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to facilitating peace efforts in Afghanistan.

The Defence Minister assured that CPEC would contribute towards “peace”, “stability” and “economic” development in the region. Even Foreign Office of Pakistan has been showcasing the economic orientation of CPEC.

The CPEC helped Pakistan improve its economy, particularly energy and infrastructure sectors. It termed the CPEC a bilateral economic project which is not against any country.

Due to rapidly changing geopolitical and geostrategic compulsions of power politics the government has deployed 15,000 military personnel, as part of the Special Security Division (SSD) and Maritime Security Force (MSF), to protect projects under the umbrella of the CPEC.

It seems that both forces will work under the Interior Ministry in coordination with the provinces to ensure the safety of locals and foreigners working on CPEC projects.

On its part, the SSD will provide security to 34 CPEC-related projects, while the MSF will safeguard the Gwadar port and other coastal areas of the country.

The SSD had been deployed in six zones from Gwadar to Gilgit-Baltistan, including all four provinces and Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK).

Being a prominent regional expert of China, CPEC & BRI, I endorse that the Belt and Road Project and its flagship project CPEC are “purely” economic projects with peaceful intent.  It does not have any military ambitions.

Emerging military alliances have been formed to topple the imminent spill-over repercussions of Afghanistan and gain lion’s share in the new regional alignment. Even the US and India have signed strategic partnership to counter Chinese economic and geopolitical domination.

US-Japan signed a military accord to protect its vested interests. Furthermore, Australia has been playing the role of “middle power’ in the Pacific region to “supplement” socio-economic, geopolitical and geostrategic interests of the US against China.

The chessboard of regional power politics has been trying to harm the regional aspirations and global interests of China through imposition of trade restrictions, embargos and socio-economic sanctions on China and its allies.

Incompletion of the long awaited Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline is the prime example of US untamed look/attitude towards Chinese allies.

Even some IT companies have also been sanctioned having commercial ties and propositions with China and Iran.

Withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan has also increased incidents of targeting terror against Chinese personnel attached to CPEC projects in Pakistan.

Regional spoilers India and USA have already waged full-fledged hybrid war against Pak-China friendship and CPEC due to which some pseudo intellectuals and fragmented and fugitive elements of TTP and Baloch insurgents are scheming ill designs in the country.

Last week China made a historic strategic move and hosted Taliban delegates in the country.

China, being a regional strategic balancer and global bearer of unilateralism and equitable world has certain economic and security concerns due to increasing ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan.

Moreover, Afghanistan, being a member of BRI having bright prospects of being connected or extended transit trade with Pakistan/Gwadar Seaport and greater regional connectivity with Central Asian Countries through CPEC has special consideration and place in the modern foreign policy of China.

Pakistan’s transition from geopolitics to geo-economy is the resultant of the grand success of BRI, CPEC in which Chinese philosophy of shared prosperity has played a vital role.

CPEC stands for rigorous socio-economic prosperity which is the real defender of a nation’s present and custodian of future.

Economic reliance disseminates disintegration and the (former) Soviet Union is the prime example of it.

Economic meltdown and useless martial campaigns of the ancient times resultant out-rooted and doomed of many splendid empires.

Thus USA, India and all enemies of development should not forget the lessons of history that military misadventures achieve nothing but strains on budgetary allocations, burdens on monetary policies and fatal propositions on fiscal policies.

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