CPEC: New economic & geopolitical realties | Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan


CHINA-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has once again become “hot” topic in the global media because of numerous interesting socio-economic, geopolitical and geostrategic rapidly changing scenarios.

The ongoing withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan and exceptional military “mileage” of Taliban has raised serious security concerns among all stakeholders, especially Pakistan, China, Russia, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Iran

In this regard, Prime Minister Imran Khan warned Taliban not to “capture” Kabul by force otherwise Pakistan’s borders will be immediately “closed”.

According to the latest reports of US Intelligence (June 2021) Taliban has already captured 85pc area of Afghanistan and will take Kabul within next few months.

Even Taliban controlled Tajikistan and Uzbekistan borders due to which supporters of peace process and reconciliation are afraid of this strategic “repeat” of history.

Diplomatic channels have confirmed that clear message has been given to Taliban to come out of their marital “hang-over” of the past and sit on the negotiation table for a befitting power sharing formula to be good for all the “ethnic” groups and “factions” of Afghanistan.

Dreams of greater socio-economic prosperity, regional connectivity and food & energy cooperation are now “revolving” around the orbit of “strategic patience”.

Economic vested interests of China in Afghanistan are huge which have strategic orientation too.

Expectedly, Modi, another US ally, has now been given new task of “connect with Taliban to seek some strategic time-out and assurance to safeguard its own interests.”

On the other hand, in its 13th presidential election Iran has now elected its new president Ebrahim Raisi who has spelled out his strategic priorities indicating revival of regionalism and greater connectivity.

Thus policy makers in Islamabad and Beijing should sit together to chalk-out a joint strategy to avoid expected imposition of the US sanctions for the further bilateral and trilateral cooperation under the flagship of the BRI and CPEC in the days to come.

The US-inspired “Build Back Better World” (B3W) project has been announced by President Joe Biden and G-7 leaders to address “strategic competition with China and commit to concrete actions to help meet the tremendous infrastructure need in low and middle-income countries”.

B3W will collectively catalyze hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure investment for low and middle-income countries in the coming years.

According to G-7 funding will emphasize the environment and climate, labour safeguards, transparency and anti-corruption.

China in 1979 had an economy that was smaller than Italy’s, but after opening to foreign investment and introducing market reforms, it has become the world’s second-largest economy and is a global leader in a range of new technologies.

Being a prominent regional expert on China, CPEC and BRI, I fairly evaluate that a pledge toward creating a strategic framework of Build Back Better World (B3W)” seems to be just a vague promise.

Chinese investment is famous for high-quality infrastructure at reasonable cost. It is financially self-sufficient to launch mega projects like BRI the project of the century, Silk Road and even the CPEC flagship project of the BRI.

But in case of financial constraints and weak economic limitations of the EU will not allow them to absorb B3W.

Moreover, the G7 is exclusive instead of inclusive, unrepresentative of the world’s largest economies like that of China and other emerging countries, and a Caucasian, Catholic club of traditional elites who once dominated the world with the military and economic might.

However, rise to white man supremacy has once again provoked the West to wage another trade war against rising China.

Interesting the G-7 also appears to be a cohort of countries that do not want to accept changing realities of a new upcoming world order: where economic power and innovation is steadily shifting from the West to the East, and the status-quo elites want to cling on to their status of five decades ago, at all costs. It seems that they are still making castles in the air.

Western Clean Green Initiative (WCGI) was floated as an alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative but could not be initiated because of numerous complex and complicated reasons. Thus B3W may also meet such kind of disaster.

The G-7 represents the Global North where as China the Global South. 21th century belongs to Asia and, of course, China.

The visionary leadership of President Xi strives hard to achieve an equal and equitable world without any discrimination. Its ongoing vaccine diplomacy has become icon of hope, survival and recovery.

Its economic recovery despite COVID-19 has prompted signs of regional as well as global recovery.

Its positive, productive and participatory universalism has given new concept of global governance.

Its financial banks, institutions and organizations like SCO are disseminating signs of hope and better future world.

Furthermore, Chinese spirits are promoting interconnectivity, socio-economic prosperity, regional integration, food and energy security, peace and stability in the region and beyond. It never attacked any country on the self-inserted and defined presumption of truth.

The Western media are highlighting the unlimited blessings of newly coined and floated so- called tool of alternative project i.e. B3W.

It seems to another Marshall Plan of the West to impose certain inhuman conditions, economic bargaining and political compulsions on the developing and under developing countries around the globe.

World chess board is inching towards “Global South” due to which it seems that Global North would be losing.

The Western economic protectionism could not achieve anything but greater ratios of poverty, lay-offs, declining of economies and lowering of manufacturing capacities.

Their constant apartheid policies through ages and shameful colonial past should be self-defeating.

The announcement of B3W has opened a wider window of opportunity for Pakistan to seek more investment, transfer of technology facilities, Artificial Intelligence apparatus, green energies, green revolution and, above, all further consolidation of political consultation between Pakistan and China.

It is the need of the hour to expedite CPEC Phase-II immediately in the country through seeking and securing greater economic and financial concessions.

I really appreciate the BRI development concept in which so far 140 countries and 32 international organizations have been engaged which highlights the great significance attached to it.

With plentiful substantial achievements having been made since it was proposed in 2013, the initiative has provided the world with many global public products that manifest practical progress toward the realization of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Most recently the State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi presided over the High level video conference on Belt and Road International Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific during which he appreciated CPEC contribution towards socio-economic prosperity of Pakistan.

Thus CPEC is the guarantor of Pakistan’s economic development which needs to be further consolidated after the most recently announced BRI Health Partnership.

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