Home Views & Opinions 8 years of CPEC: 8 key outcomes and beyond

8 years of CPEC: 8 key outcomes and beyond

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As Pakistan and China celebrate a splendid journey of 70 years of bilateral relations, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has also completed 8 years of its inception, making it one of the most successful components of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The people of Pakistan and China can rightly and confidently take pride in the fact that their two countries – over past 70 years – have given the world a unique and positive model of inter-state relations. The two countries have shown that a lasting, mutually win-win partnership is possible and workable despite the differences of systems and ideologies. The key to this kind of a relationship is peaceful co-existence, caring for the shared interests, and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. The ties between Pakistan and China, having completed seven decades of a glorious partnership, have a lot for the world community to learn and gain from.
Beijing and Islamabad (Karachi, before 1960s) have had a close and mutually beneficial partnership throughout the past seven decades of their diplomatic relations. Nonetheless, the advent of CPEC in 2013 ushered the bilateral ties into a whole new paradigm. The first Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Long-Term Plan for the Corridor was signed on July 5, 2013 in Beijing, during the visit of Nawaz Sharif, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan. Work on CPEC was jump-started during the visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping to Pakistan in April 2015.
CPEC, while maintaining the strategic and diplomatic closeness between the two sides, added an unprecedented scale and scope of economic, commercial, investment bonds and people-to-people exchanges. CPEC, during the past 8 years of its initiation and implementation, has seen its first phase being completed successfully and now the second phase is well underway.
Out of the total more than $ 60 billion envisaged under CPEC Long-Term Plan, more than $ 25 billion of Chinese investment has already been made in Pakistan. This has resulted in Pakistan’s electricity generation capacity increasing significantly; adding thousands of Mega Watts into Pakistan’s national grid. The issue of power shortage in Pakistan has been resolved to a large extent – particularly so for all-important export-oriented manufacturing sector. Besides, CPEC has also improved Pakistan’s roads’ infrastructure in a big way. New highways and motorways have been built and are being built throughout the country’s length and breath. These include Karachi-Lahore Motorway also connecting Multan, Rahim Yar Khan, Sukkur and Hyderabad; Up-gradation of Karakoram Highway; Zhob-Kuchlak road, Eastbay Expressway and others. Moreover, the Gwadar deep-sea port is now functional, increasingly handling cargo ships. Therefore, the pre-requisites for Pakistan economy to move towards industrialization and export-driven growth have been provided.
Now, in the second phase of implementation of CPEC, Pakistan and China are moving ahead with industrial cooperation, agriculture, and social sector projects. 9 Special Economic Zones (SEZ) have been identified and work on 4 of those – Rashakai (KP), Dhabeji (Sindh), Allamah Iqbal (Pubjab) and Bostan (Balochistan) SEZs – is moving quite fast, in addition to Gwadar Free Economic Zone. Chinese companies are registering in sizeable numbers to start their production facilities in these SEZs. In the second phase of CPEC, China will invest $ 1 billion for Pakistan’s social,educational and agricultural sector development. People-to-people contacts have also seen a big boost; more than 30,000 Pakistani students are studying in Chinese institutions and a sizeable number of Chinese are living and working in Pakistan, as well.
Yet, CPEC has not been without its own share of challenges including security threats as well as persistent negative propaganda – maneuvered, without an iota of doubt, by the enemies of Pak-China partnership. It is a matter of satisfaction to note that the two countries are successfully dealing with and have by and large overcome these challenges.
As Pakistan and China look forward towards an even stronger bond in the years and decades to come; CPEC has already laid the foundation for a broad-based and stronger mutual partnership. The Corridor, in coming years and decades, would undoubtedly be shaping the future of Pak-China ties in more ways than one. The following 8 positive outcomes are particularly worth mentioning:
1. CPEC has put Pakistan back on global map of key recipients of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
2. Pakistan and China are now geared towards a closer industrial cooperation including transfer of Chinese industries and technologies to Pakistan;
3. Mutual ties are becoming broad-based with inclusion of new areas of cooperation such as railways; water resources; technological; educational; health; social-sector assistance; agriculture; costal development; urban uplift; media & cultural sectors etc;
4. Pakistan’s communication infrastructure including roads, railways network, sea-ports and airports has got the upshot and would further be improved and up-graded;
5. The way is being paved for reduction in Pakistan’s chronic trade deficit, with China as well as with the rest of the world because CPEC-backed industrialization, Pakistan’s export capacity is set to increase;
6. Pakistan is becoming an important link within China-backed Global Supply Chains
7. More avenues are opening up for people of the two countries to have wider exchanges for the purpose of business, education, as well as tourism
8. CPEC will also impact the entire region positively. Through CPEC, Pakistan and China are laying a solid and dependable foundation for broader regional connectivity and integration; Gwadar port in particular is assuming a key position for South-Western China, Central Asia and Afghanistan. Third party participation is being discussed at Joint Working Group (JWP) for formulation of modalities in this connection.
Overall, CPEC is opening exciting vistas for Pakistan and China to further cement their already exemplary relationship. One may hope that the leadership, institutions, functionaries and all concerned stakeholders of the two sides would continue to work together to make CPEC a resounding success – for a win-win relationship and for the journey towards a shared future.