CPEC PHASE-II: A Sanctify Inquiry  | By Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan


CPEC PHASE-II: A Sanctify Inquiry 

Despite ongoing political chaos and constant economic meltdown the incumbent government of Pakistan has now decided to start China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Phase-II which would be useful for averting economic decline and poor manufacturing in the country. It would start new imputes to sinking national industrialization and social development.

Many regional as well as international power brokers through different soft diplomatic means along with extraordinary harsh engagements and political statements have been forcing the country to stay away from the CPEC being a so-called debt trap. The sudden surge in the deadly activities of terrorism have also taken a toll on the initiation of CPEC Phase-II in the country which is badly hurting economic activities in the country and one of the main reasons for declining ratios of the FDIs.

Furthermore, serious budgetary and financial constraints of the ruling government has also mired the development of the CPEC projects and unfortunately delayed the execution of its phase-II which has been dubbed as catalyst for the economic development of the country.

Nevertheless, during his doom and gloom the Chinese government’s constant and paramount socio-economic and geo-political support and geo-strategic comfort have been showcasing the true spirits of true friendship and iron-clad partnership of both the countries. The Chinese foreign ministry took the lead and urged the international community and organizations to assist Pakistan to come out of this ongoing economic saga.

Moreover, China has granted a one-year rollover of $2 billion in SAFE (State Administration of Foreign Exchange) deposits to Pakistan, which was going to mature by the end of the ongoing month. It was one of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) requirements for meeting external financing needs and progressing toward the long-awaited staff-level agreement.

Furthermore, Pakistan has received $500 million from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC) which has been treated as a friendly tranche. The Chinese Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC) has completed all formalities and approved the rollover of a $1.3 billion facility that Pakistan repaid in recent months.

Luckily, the CPEC Phase-I projects have created more than 150000 new jobs and supported women empowerment. More than 6000 MW of electricity and over 510 KMs new roads have been completed further enhancing the spirits of balanced economic development and rural-urban regional connectivity.

Undoubtedly, the CPEC Phase-I projects have helped the country to further develop its blue economy, IT exports, pace industrialization, generation of energy output, social development and built 2 special economic zones. It has further developed its national capacity of disaster & crisis management which is mitigating spillover repercussions of the looming threat of climate change in the country. It has already embarked a new but innovative discipline i.e. Artificial Intelligence in the country and the first AI scientific centre has been inaugurated and operationalized.

The connectivity through optical fibre and through transmission lines is also helping Pakistan achieve the development targets for having an endogenous mechanism for sustainable economic growth in this regard.

Reliable sources are of the view that the federal cabinet has granted its approval for signing the draft Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) ostensibly to promote industrial cooperation with China, within the framework of the CPEC Phase-II. CPEC is the most valuable flagship project of China’s BRI consisting of various economic and mega infrastructure projects throughout Pakistan. It is a $62 billion project which includes a 3,000-kilometer network of railways, oil and gas pipelines connecting both countries as well as many new renewable energy projects.

According to reports, the industrial cooperation agreement between the two neighbouring countries will be effective till 2025, with the possibility of further expansion. It is learnt that under the agreement, there will be capacity building and skill development of Pakistan’s CPEC workforce. The Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Law jointly endorsed the draft agreement.

In this regard, the 10th JCC meeting of CPEC was held on 23rd September 2021 in which the NDRC China proposed that an MoC between BoI and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) likely to be signed, in order to strengthen workers’ exchange under CPEC Industrial Cooperation.

On the basis of mutual consent both sides will hold online workers symposiums at regular intervals as well as carry out relevant exchanges and cooperation. The online symposium will be designated for the workforces of both countries that are actively engaged in and contributing to the construction of CPEC. These proposed online seminars will highlight the remarkable achievement of the Chinese’s successful experience in development for Special Economic Zones (SEZs). Moreover, in the next three years, both sides shall initiate an exchange program by arranging activities in their respective countries to foster practical people to people and cultural exchanges on ground.

To provide firsthand experience of the successful industrial models in China, the Chinese stakeholders shall facilitate the field visits of the concerned teams from Pakistan, including the Chinese SEZs.

To conclude, the decision of initiation of CPEC Phase-II is a good omen. It would be positive, productive and constructive in terms of industrialization, social development and health & tourism cooperation, acceleration of special free economic zones and development of renewables in the country.

The ongoing IMF negotiations have also raised baseless notion pertaining to the increase in the Chinese debts to Pakistan which provided the western countries to start another spell of propaganda against the CPEC. Frankly speaking, the increase in the Chinese debts is not because of the Chinese side but because of Pakistan’s own handicapped political economy.

India has been a staunch enemy of the CPEC and its projects especially in Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan regions that are disputed between Pakistan and India. The policy makers of Pakistan should avail benefits from the recently inked peace agreement between Saudi Arabia and China and try to synergize CPEC with China-Iran Strategic Partnership for the benefit of all the regional countries.

It is a wise and timely decision of the government of Pakistan and its Chinese counterpart to start the CPEC Phase-II in the country. Both sides should also seriously consider to include projects of green energy (green & blue hydrogen), renewables (solar & wind) with the immediate facility of transfer of technology, production of lithium batteries and last but not least, mini, medium and mega construction of water storage batteries in Baluchistan, KP, Gilgit-Baltistan region (commonly used in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries to generate clean energy).

Both countries should further strengthen cooperation in the agriculture sector and introduce new seeds for its export to China and other regional countries. China must help Pakistan to convert its vast deserted landscape for avoiding further bio-diversity and advancing green development in the country. In this regard, a model project may be started along with the Thar Coal project which would revolutionize the agriculture sector in the country.  Construction of greenhouses in the private sector along with the participation of the local population in Baluchistan, KP and Punjab would be useful to eradicate poverty and generate new jobs along with starting a journey towards food self-reliance.