Pakistan and China are set to finalize Gwadar projects including the establishment of an international airport and some other social sector projects. China has stepped ahead to address Pakistan’s concerns by its broader Belt and Road mindset and its willingness to welcome the change that Pakistan’s PTI-led government is seeking. Chinese Consul General Long Dingbin said that in order to “boost Pakistan’s economy”, Beijing is investing in multiple sectors and launching business ventures instead of providing loans. Chinese defense ministry spokesperson Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang announced that China will further advance its military ties with Pakistan, as a part of joint efforts of promoting their defense capability. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has yet to take any initiative to promote construction of the Western Route under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during its first 100 days.
Please read below for additional details in this edition of China Watch [November 26 – December 02] by CRSS.
Pakistan, China yet to Finalize Gwadar Projects:
With no possibility of striking a deal on Mainline (ML-1) during the upcoming Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) next month, Pakistan and China are all set to finalize Gwadar projects including establishment of international airport with an estimated grant of $223 million and some other social sector projects.[i]
Both sides in upcoming JCC will also consider small socio-economic development projects up to $1 billion on request of Islamabad for execution in all four provinces.
Balochistan’s provincial cabinet also has granted approval for issuance of No Objection Certificate (NOC) for providing land to China on 40 years lease for the establishment of 300 Megawatt Coal-fired power project at Gwadar.
CPEC Defies Skepticism to Aid Pakistan’s Development:
Five years since its launch, CPEC has generated 75,000 jobs for Pakistanis, and the figure is expected to multiply 10 times in the next 15 years, largely in infrastructure, energy and transportation sectors. More importantly, it is improving Pakistan’s investment environment, according to experts.[ii]
For China, CPEC is an important channel through which Beijing promotes its idea of connectivity and cooperation with the rest of the world and extends its footprint. For Pakistan, CPEC helps improve its basic infrastructure and eventually boost its economy. Nonetheless, CPEC has triggered a great deal of controversy since its beginning. Such repeated criticisms say that China aims to achieve global domination without caring for Pakistan’s development and that Beijing has inflicted a debt burden on Pakistan.
China has stepped ahead to address Pakistan’s concerns. Beijing has offered Islamabad the option to start trading in yuan to rein in the country’s rising trade deficit.
China to Help Overcome Pakistan’s Financial Crunch through Investments in Fresh Projects:
The Chinese Consul General in Lahore, Long Dingbin said that China plans on investing in fresh new projects in Pakistan, instead of providing financial loans, that will help mitigate Pakistan’s financial crisis. He said that these new projects will expand the horizon of CPEC, something which was decided during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China last month. He also said that China will always help Pakistan in its difficult times, and will never leave it high and dry.[iii]
In response to a question about Pakistan’s crippling debts, Dingbin insisted that CPEC did not contribute to “Pakistan’s debt burden”. He said that only four of the 22 projects launched under CPEC provided concessional loans, while the rest were investment-based and would strengthen Pakistan’s economy. [iv]
China to Advance its Military Ties with Pakistan:
A spokesperson of the Chinese defense ministry, Senior Colonel Ren Guoqiang, said that China was looking forward to strengthening military ties with Pakistan, which is imperative for the all-weather strategic relationship between the two countries. He also told the reporters that Pakistan and China are set to conduct joint air exercises in the Bholari Air base of Pakistan. Pakistan and China are collaborating in various fields, which will have a positive impact on CPEC.[v]
100-day plan: No Initiative Yet to Promote Construction of Western Route under CPEC:
The present government has re-defined the scope of CPEC, with the slogan “One Corridor, Many Doors.” The Project Director of CPEC in the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, Hassan Daud Butt, said that the government is now focusing on the inclusion of Dera Ismail Khan-Zhob road as part of the Western Corridor of CPEC, and he said this project will be taken up in the JCC, to be held in Beijing on December 19th. He also clarified that the government did not drop any CPEC project, rather has worked to include Joint Working Groups on agriculture and socio-economic development.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has yet to take any initiative to promote construction of the Western Route under CPEC during its first 100 days. While in opposition Imran Khan had consistently urged the PML-N government to construct the Western Route on priority basis as that would enable “the people of Balochistan to reunite with the rest of the country, and all the separatist movements would automatically come to an end.”[vi]
This report is compiled and written by Syeda Uruba Nisar, Social Media Associate at the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), Islamabad.
[i] Haider, M. (2018, November 30). Pakistan, China yet to finalise Gwadar projects. The News. Retrieved December 3, 2018, from https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/400100-pakistan-china-yet-to-finalise-gwadar-projects
[iii] China to help overcome Pakistan’s financial crunch through investments in fresh projects. (2018, December 2). CPEC Info. Retrieved December 3, 2018, from http://www.cpecinfo.com/news/china-to-help-overcome-pakistan-financial-crunch-through-investments-in-fresh-projects/NjMzNQ==
[v] INP. (2018, November 30). China to advance its military ties with Pakistan. Pakistan Today. Retrieved December 3, 2018, from https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/11/30/china-to-advance-its-military-ties-with-pakistan-spokesperson/
[vi] Butt, N. (2018, November 29). 100-day plan: No initiative yet to promote construction of Western Route under CPEC. Business Recorder. Retrieved December 3, 2018, from https://fp.brecorder.com/2018/11/20181129427223/