CPEC: A Signature Project
Editor's Note: The author is Executive Director of the Center for South Asia & International Studies (CSAIS) Islamabad and Regional Expert on China, BRI & CPEC. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Gwadar Pro.
The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has now completed its ten years of operations in the country. Since its inception in 2013 it succeeded to establish a cooperation framework with ports and transportation infrastructure, energy and industry.
Most recently the foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin while in the regular media briefing termed CPEC as a signature project in cooperation in the new era.
Definitely, the CPEC project has been one of the biggest sources of foreign direct investment, generation of new jobs, power generation and world class infrastructure development in the country since July 5, 2013. It has been playing an important role in the country’s socio-economic prosperity, poverty uplift and regional connectivity during the last ten years.
Moreover, the CPEC Phase-I has further increased bilateral cooperation in agriculture, science, technology, information technology and social wellbeing of the local community and common people of the country alike between two sides. Hopefully, CPEC Phase-II would further strengthen the high-quality development in the days to come.
So far, CPEC Phase-I has been successfully completed and now the second phase is well underway due to which it going to become one of the most significant components of China’s mega global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
According to Planning Ministry of Pakistan out of US$60 billion under CPEC approximately a half just below US$ 30 billion of Chinese investment has already been made in the country. It substantially reduced energy deficits and added some 10,000-12000 Mega Watts into Pakistan’s national grid which is indeed a great achievement.
It has also improved the country’s road communication infrastructure. In this regard, new highways have also been built and are being built in all the provinces. The Karachi-Lahore Motorway under the flagship project of the CPEC connects Multan, Rahim Yar Khan, Sukkur and Hyderabad.
Furthermore, further up-gradation of Karakoram Highway; Zhob-Kuchlak road, Eastbay Expressway and others are transforming the inter-provincial travelling. In this connection, the Gwadar Sea port is now being fully operationalized and channelized improving lives of common people and local economies alike. The completion of Gwadar new international airport would further enhance its strategic utility and scope in the days to come.
It is good omen that both countries have agreed on the up-gradation of Pakistan railway’s ML-1 which would hopefully foster railways sector in the country. It would be catalyst for greater regional connectivity between South Asia and Central Asia in the future.
The CPEC Phase-II has been implemented increasing bilateral cooperation in industrial, agriculture, and social development. Nine Special Economic Zones (SEZs) have been identified and commenced.
However, safety, security, repayment delays and bureaucratic hurdles have been one of the main pitfalls during the last ten years which should be mutually resolved as soon as possible. Moreover, formation of Corridor of knowledge would be a value addition to mitigate false propaganda against the CPEC.
For the further strengthening of bilateral relations and gearing of economic ties a closer industrial cooperation including transfer of Chinese industries and technologies to Pakistan should the foremost priority of the CPEC Phase-II.
It is suggested that joint work should be started in smarter technologies, green energy development, drone agriculture, lithium batteries, solar planes, health, skilled education, Artificial Intelligence, modernization of agriculture, cooperation in disaster management, global warming, smart living and city planning should be included in its Phase-II in the country. With the completion of Gwadar Seaport maritime economy, costal tourism, fisheries and last but not proper management of water resources should also be included.
Special attention should be given to form global supply chains in the country especially in digitalization, ICT and e-commerce in the days to come.
Last but not least, CPEC should also be utilized for the further strengthening of regional connectivity especially the role of Gwadar post would be profound, positive, productive and participatory in South-Western China, Central Asia and Afghanistan.