China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)


    In News

    • Recently, the Chief of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority has accused the United States of sabotaging the multi-billion dollar project, the economic lifeline of Pakistan.


    • Pakistan is the seventh largest recipient of Chinese overseas development financing with 71 projects worth USD 27.3 billion currently underway as part of the CPEC.
    • The US and Europe view CPEC more as a move by China to expand its political, strategic and business influence. Also, China has been able to allay that apprehension to a great extent.
    • Pakistan is seeking the expansion of the CPEC to Afghanistan and has discussed the possibility of Taliban-led Afghanistan joining the multibillion-dollar economic corridor.
    • Many Western think tanks and commentators have termed the CPEC an economic trap that has already resulted in bloated public debt levels and disproportionately high Chinese influence in Pakistan’s economy.

    About China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

    • Launched in 2015, the CPEC is the flagship project of the multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping, aimed at enhancing Beijing’s influence around the world through China-funded infrastructure projects.
    • The 3,000 km-long China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) consists of highways, railways, and pipelines.
    • CPEC eventually aims at linking the city of Gwadar in South Western Pakistan to China’s North Western region Xinjiang through a vast network of highways and railways.
    • The proposed project will be financed by heavily-subsidised loans that will be disbursed to the Government of Pakistan by Chinese banks.


    Image Courtesy: TOI 

    India’s Concerns on Afghanistan joining CPEC

    • Chabahar Port: 
      • The primary concern with Afghanistan joining CPEC is that India is apprehensive of its investment in Chabahar port in Iran.
    • China’s influence:
      • In Afghanistan, China is trying to fill the vacuum created after the US forces left Afghanistan economically and get its Belt and Road (BRI) initiatives going.
      • With the Extension of CPEC, China will play a leading role in Afghanistan overpowering India’s economic influence in Afghanistan.
      • India is apprehensive of undermining the India–Iran–Afghanistan trilateral that gives Afghanistan access to the sea via Chabahar port.
    • Weakening of India’s Economic Influence: 
      • Attempts to extend CPEC to Afghanistan may undermine India’s position as an economic, security and strategic partner of Afghanistan.
    • US$2 billion at stake: 
      • India has been the biggest regional donor to Afghanistan investing more than US$2 billion for developmental work like construction of roads, power plants, dams, parliament building, rural development, education, infrastructure and much more.
    • Rare-earth metals: 
      • Which are key components for a variety of advanced electronic technologies and hi-tech missile guidance systems will be exploited by China with the extension of CPEC.
    • Terrorism and Strategic Concerns: 
      • Given India’s limited strategic depth in Afghanistan, China is in a better position to leverage its strategic advantages in Afghanistan.
      • It will also help Pakistan gain the strategic advantage and upper hand in Afghanistan at the cost of India.
      • Pakistan can facilitate the use of terrorism against India.
    • Control of Strategic Air Base and ports:
      • China may try to take over the Bagram air force base in Afghanistan.
      • The Bagram airport is the biggest airport and technically well-equipped as the Americans kept it for their use till the end, instead of the Kabul airport.
      • China has a history of building military bases on the ports and air bases acquired on foreign lands in lieu of loans provided.

    Way Ahead

    • Improved infrastructure and security situation in Afghanistan may help India to conduct its economic and trade activities in a secured environment.
      • But, to achieve that, it is necessary to make the region terrorism free.
    • It will be a big strategic gain for China and Pakistan and a loss for India if Afghanistan joins the CPEC. 
    • It can also result in a boost to terrorist organizations and provide a safe haven to such organisations.

    Source: BS