CPEC & Emerging Geopolitical and Geostrategic Trends

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Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

CHINA Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has become a flashpoint for various capitals, especially Washington and New Delhi etc. It is indeed one of the main projects of One Belt, One Road (OBOR) which would decrease Beijing’s reliance on “strategic” routes in the days to come.

The most recent report of Pentagon (September, 2020) upheld that CPEC’s mega projects in the shape of seaport, networking of pipelines and infrastructure development would further decrease China’s dependence on importing energy resources through strategic “choke” points, such as the “Strait of Malacca”. It would further enhance Chinese blue economy and boost easy and smooth supplies of energy resources and above all consolidate its massive drive of diversification of economy.

The said report criticized BRI which was initiated in 2013 to nurture closer economic integration with countries along China’s periphery and beyond. It termed it an effective tool for the reshaping of participatory countries interests. It showed falsehood narratives of the US towards economic partnership of China in the region.

It labelled it manipulated “dominance” of Chinese commercial diplomacy with certain geopolitical and geo-strategic interests. It noted that BRI was started to promote further regional stability and integration of socio-economic activities just in order to mitigate strong criticism over China’s approach to various regional issues belonging to human survival, channels of production, peace & security, political sovereignty and above all countering increasing military presence of the USA in the region. It showed its biasness and prejudice towards China and its increasing economic power in the world.

Furthermore, Pentagon report (September, 2020) showcased BRI as policy of Chinese imperialism, economic supremacy and political domination which has eroded participating countries and endangered their political institutes. It is totally baseless and untrue statement of the US.

To counter increasing baseless propaganda the government of China held the second Belt and Road Forum over corruption, indebtedness, environmental sustainability and lack of transparency over OBOR projects and successfully mitigated the US and the western disinformation about the strategic importance of the BRI.

Chinese government and policy makers highlighted its socio-economic dividends, geopolitical benefits and geostrategic advantages to international audience and, of course, all the participating countries. One of the important conditions to become part of the BRI is “free choice” and “political consent” of a country which is the real essence of any “genuine” corporate deal and institutionalization of “commercial” diplomacy. Rise to debts of a few participating countries was “diagnosed” to serious “flaws” to their national economic policies and denial of structural reforms. Rise to corruption solely associated to serious “capacity building issues” in the respective countries governance systems.

The said report also highlighted ongoing military stand-off between China and India persisted along the north-eastern border in Arunachal Pradesh and near the Aksai Chin region at the western end of the Tibetan Plateau. It may be part of the US, China Containment Policy (CCP).

To conclude Pentagon report (2020) indicated that China has deep strategic interests in Pakistan, which will persuade both countries to stay engaged despite possible irritants. It suggested increasing “bilateral and multilateral” engagements with Pakistan which can improve its strategic importance and point of bargaining in the region. China-Pakistan are iron brothers.

Another report of Forbes (2020) indicated Chain’s increasing commercial as well as political interest in developing Gwadar but there is no evidence to suggest that it is building military installations in the port city. Gwadar has strategic importance for China which will provide “a port facility connected to China by road and rail that bypasses the Strait of Malacca. It has immense socio-economic benefits to Pakistan too.

The government of Pakistan strongly rejected all accusations of the Pentagon report and pledged its socio-economic prosperity with China and, of course, the CPEC. Prime minister Imran Khan while giving live interview to Al-Jazeera appreciated positive, productive, participatory and peace-oriented contribution of the CPEC for the country. The Chinese government has also appreciated Premier Khan’s stance on China and the CPEC projects. The Chinese embassy appreciated warm remarks of Prime Minister Khan on China-Pak relations. It also appreciates the contribution of the CPEC Authority for the development of the ongoing projects.

During the interview with Al-Jazeera, he strongly rejected the notion that Pakistan desired to re-negotiate terms of engagement of the CPEC with China. He mentioned that Pakistan’s economic future linked to China and Pakistan can be benefited from Chinese assistance especially in terms of eradication of poverty, generation of new jobs, diversification of economy, development of hydro-energy resources, agriculture development, health, housing and last but not the least massive industrialization.

Rapidly changing socio-economic alliances, self-defined partnerships, strategic dialogues and above all commercial engagements have now forced the government of Pakistan to align its foreign policy, strategic preferences, socio-economic agreements and last but not the least geopolitical & geostrategic future outlook towards China.

Now its bilateral ties have been further transformed and revolutionized in recent times. It has even introduced element of trilateral ties too mainly peace in Afghanistan, SCO, fight against terrorism and radicalization. It has further cemented its all-weather friendship.

BRI and the CPEC have now become a “balancing act” of China to deter hegemonic designs of India, USA and many others in the region. It has changed the concept of economic development and political alliance by pouring billions of unconditional investments. CPEC is indeed fate and game-changer for Pakistan and rest of the region.

CPEC’s phase-II is going to be implemented very soon in the country. Successful outcome of the CPEC project has irritated regional players which are now in the state of denial and trying to sabotage its interrelated development activities through widespread dissemination of falsehood reports, biased statements and above all fabricated economic and statistical data.

Being prominent regional expert on China, BRI and the CPEC, I uphold strategic importance of the BRI & CPEC and term it vital for the socio-economic development of the country, achieving the goals of massive industrialization, diversification of economy, new job generation, eradication of poverty and above all balancing act to counter geopolitical and geostrategic manoeuvring of the USA and India.

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