CPEC’s re-branding


Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

CHINA Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) enters its second phase which urgently needs its re-branding for the betterment of the two countries and “negating” massive propaganda against its objectives. Rapidly changing geo-political and geostrategic trends also demand re-branding of the CPEC. Being prominent regional expert of China, CPEC & BRI, I have been closely observing constant “dissemination” of disinformation against the CPEC. It has been battle of “national narratives” and so-called national vested interests mainly based on “hegemonic designs” of India in the South East Asia, the “untamed” desires of the US to contain China in Asia and Central Asian Region (CAR), Japan to counter its “unmatched” socio-economic dominance in the Far-East region and last but not least, risk to Austrian blue economy.

Diasporas of India, Taiwan, Japan and many more countries have their unconventional “holy alliances” to pollute minds and souls of common people, corporate world, multinational companies and last but not the least, international financing and monetary agencies to depict BRI, of which CPEC is flagship project as failed project aiming mainly to control over weaker national economies of the participating countries and Pakistan is not any exception.

On its part, the US and some countries of the EU have also been in the race of image “distortion” of China because of its mega “projects of the century” i.e. BRI and CPEC. US’s “modus operandi” has been on the fronts of track-II corridors of power with the help of so-called “intellectual diplomacy”. A series of official statements/interviews/purposeful visits of Alice Wells, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia at the U.S. Department of State all indicate US stance against the CPEC which it has been, ironically, labelling as against the very sovereignty of Pakistan, financial & economic trap and of course high ratios of unmanageable debts and ultimately allured the Pakistani government to cancel the ongoing projects.

There have been unstoppable flood of false news-items and articles against the CPEC reported in different regional countries’ {especially India} media outlets: The Indian Times, The Economic Times, Eurasian Times, larger numbers of electronic magazines and web-sites have tirelessly been publishing news items and articles against the “strategic utility” and scope of the CPEC. Moreover, Indians living especially in the US and the EU have been rigorously participating in the ongoing war of words. Even many daily newspapers of “Israel” have been supporting the cause of Indians to publish and accommodate numerous articles against the CPEC.

Unfortunately, in our own country so-called “intellectual intelligentsia” could not face propaganda onslaught of the West against the CPEC and rather tried to offer their services to defame “sagacity” of the collective development, greater socio-economic prosperity, regional connectivity, energy and food security and above all generation of new jobs of the CPEC for the sake of a few “dollars & euros” which is indeed height of “intellectual dishonesty” and “decay” of true nationalism.

Being prominent regional expert of China, CPEC & BRI, I suggest that both countries should reconsider their “ongoing” strategies of branding and soft imaging of the BRI & CPEC and chalk out new strategies for its re-branding being “project of the century”, instrumental to serve humanity”, peaceful mega project for greater regional connectivity”, “engine of growth”, “pro-development”, fair-deal in terms of investment and allocations of funds”, and “complete transparency in terms of conditions of financing, repayment schedule and part of future mark-up” through government-to-government levels by involving all the stakeholders in successful transition and implementation of the CPEC.

I have already strongly recommended formation of genuine scholars with nationalistic spirit i.e. “Council of Intellectuals” comprising experts of BRI & CPEC from both the countries to counter dissemination of disinformation of the West against the CPEC. Moreover, there should also be “BRI & CPEC Media Publishing Houses” to defend the true causes of the CPEC. In this regard, I must appreciate positive role of some of Pakistani media, particularly the Daily Pakistan Observer which has been publishing qualitative articles about CPEC in a weekly edition and daily regular news items and editorials about CPEC/BRI for so many years since the launch of the project.

The Centre for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS), Islamabad, Pakistan being primier “public policy” “institute” and “reputable” “think tank” with world reach, incomparable regional intellect connectivity/cooperation, vast human capital, rich diversity of regional expertise and resources has been fighting against all odds to defend China, its various policies and of course the CPEC through publishing research based articles, conducting seminars, regional & international conferences and webinars to highlight the strategic importance of the BRI & CPEC on regular basis since its inception. In re-branding of the BRI & CPEC, the CGSS, Pakistan may be an “asset” for both the countries, policy makers, investors, private companies and people alike.

Most recently, Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his firm resolve to end the “sense of deprivation” among the people of Balochistan by launching a series of development projects and undo the decades of neglect towards the province under the framework of the CPEC. He further said the development of Gwadar Port would be a “game changer” for not only the people of Balochistan, but also for the entire region. He stressed the need to develop infrastructure, provision of employment for the youth and completion of road networks so the people could benefit from the completion of the Gwadar Port and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

On its part, Sindh government transferred the land possession of over 1,500-acre Dhabeji special economic zone. The provincial government allocated the land for the zone in Thatta. DSEZ will facilitate the potential investors of China and other countries to either start new enterprises or transfer their facilities to Pakistan. It is being developed on public private partnership,” said a statement. “The project will generate over 50,000 job opportunities for the skilled and unskilled youth. So CPEC’s re-branding is the need of the hour.