China-Pakistan Economic Corridor takes form amid serious security concern

By Zhang Jiegen Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/26 18:43:44

Many Chinese have serious concerns about the security environment and prospects of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) after the recent kidnapping and alleged murder of their compatriots there.

But I found the misgivings were not necessary after carrying out on-the-spot research at Chinese and local enterprises in Pakistan, and visiting scholars and research fellows at various universities and think tanks.

Despite the recent tragedy, the overall security situation in Pakistan has improved. Attacks on Chinese people mainly occurred in Balochistan, where the security situation has been truly deteriorating.

However, the tribes in these areas don't reject the CPEC. With the Pakistani government and army enforcing effective governance of these areas, extremists will have less room to operate.

It deserves to be mentioned that China has maintained successful foreign economic cooperation with other countries and helped them develop their local economies under the principal of mutual benefit. The relationship between Pakistan and China, however, is different from any other bilateral relationship. With a solid foundation of friendship, China has improved the fragile security situation of Pakistan through effective cooperation, which has helped win Pakistani people's hearts.

Some people believe obstruction by India may become a stumbling block to the future development of the CPEC. In fact, India's rejection is mainly because the corridor passes through the disputed Kashmir region. The corridor's construction may be affected in the short term, but from a long-term perspective, China and Pakistan can dispel India's doubt to the maximum degree if they are firm about their cooperation and actively interact with neighboring countries or even Western countries to provide ancillary facilities for them to join in the corridor construction.

During my research, I talked with government officials, think tank specialists and scholars in Pakistan. Words like "great prospects" and "game changer" were frequently mentioned.

At present, China has invested in 51 projects in the CPEC, with 19 already complete. Pakistan has announced that the total investment has reached $46 billion. That number is based on projects that are currently running, and the final number will exceed it.

In addition to the CPEC, China has invested in more than 200 projects in Pakistan. Its investment in the Hualong One Nuclear Power project near Karachi amounted to $6.5 billion.

The return rate of the CPEC for China is generally higher than that in other countries. Pakistan is required to pay 17 percent of the investment deposit for each project.

What's more important is that the investments mainly focus on energy and infrastructure, which are urgently needed for Pakistan's economic development.

As foreign media outlets have reported, while some details about the large-scale Belt and Road initiative are still vague, the CPEC, in contrast, is becoming ever more concrete and has effectively taken form.

The author is an associate research fellow at the Pakistan Research Center of Fudan University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn



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