Pakistan’s Prime Minister is currently on a five-day visit to China. The visit is anticipated to involve the formal announcement of the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

About CPEC: 

  • Launched in April 2015, the $62-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) runs about 2700 km from Gwadar to Kashgar. It is a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
    BRI is a massive infrastructure investment project, aiming to boost China’s global influence by investing billions of dollars across about 100 nations.
  • CPEC is divided into three phases, with the completion of the first phase, the second phase has begun and the third (final) phase is planned to end by 2030.
  • CPEC involves building power plants, roads, railways, and the Gwadar port in Pakistan.
  • CPEC Phase-II is 36 times larger in magnitude as compared to the previous phase. The focal areas to be developed in Phase-II include industry, trade and agriculture. Around 27 projects are designed to be executed as a part of Phase-II.
  • This project holds strategic importance for China, granting it direct access to the Indian Ocean through highways in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and across Pakistan.

Current status of the project:

  • The initial phase of CPEC focused on infrastructure, energy, and port development, but progress has been slow and inconsistent. 
  • Gwadar port’s development also has been particularly slow due to several delays, with many projects still unfinished.
  • According to official Chinese sources, by 2022, CPEC had brought $25.4 billion in terms of direct investment to Pakistan.

Major causes of delay:

  • CPEC has faced challenges due to Chinese concerns over corruption, redtapism, and political instability in Pakistan. 
  • Violence and security issues led to several Chinese personnel casualties in Balochistan, where Gwadar port is situated.
  • Despite promises, CPEC-related developments have not significantly benefited the local Baloch population, aggravating feelings of economic injustice among them.  

Major Pakistani Concerns over CPEC:

  • Reviving CPEC is crucial for Pakistan’s struggling economy, but there are doubts over its effectiveness and the project’s impact has also been limited. 
  • Although CPEC aimed to create over 2 million jobs, official data show far fewer (around 2.5 lacs) jobs have been generated. 
  • Pakistan’s debt to China has surged significantly since CPEC’s announcement, raising fears of overreliance and potential loss of sovereignty and leading to Pakistan becoming a de facto Chinese client state.

India’s Stance on CPEC:

  • India’s stance on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is one of strong opposition.
  • India views the CPEC as a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity since the corridor passes through parts of Jammu & Kashmir, which are under illegal occupation of Pakistan (POK). 
  • Despite China’s and Pakistan’s interest in involving third parties in the CPEC, India maintains that connectivity initiatives should adhere to universally recognized norms, good governance, and respect for territorial integrity.

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