On April 2015 President of China Xi Jinping and Prime minister Nawaz Sharif Started a project Named: CPEC The flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which includes six economic corridors that will transport goods, people and data across the Eurasian supercontinent. The corridor amplifies Pakistan’s pivotal role in the connectivity of West Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia.
Though Pakistan and China are the main stakeholders, and therefore beneficiaries, of the project, other regional actors will also benefit from its success. From the start, both Pakistan and China have expressed a desire for other parties to invest in CPEC. The involvement of other nations in the project automatically makes them stakeholders, aiding the expansion, implementation, and prosperity of the project. Hence Saudi Arabia’s entry broadens its prospects and also assists in its connectivity to nations in West Asia.
During his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan succeeded in convincing the Saudi ruling elite to invest in CPEC. The Kingdom is the first country invited to do so. Riyadh’s positive response is economically encouraging and offers strategic benefits. Saudi investment will attract other investors and make the project more economically feasible and politically secure. The details of the Saudi investment in CPEC are not available but it is speculated that the Kingdom will invest about $10 billion in different sectors in Pakistan. If it matures, it will be an enormous economic relief package for the country’s fragile economy.
The Saudi investment will be aimed at developing the oil facilities at the port city of Gwadar. The city’s growth as an oil hub will be profitable for both China and Kingdom. The latter is one of the biggest exporters of oil, while the former has been the world’s largest consumer of oil since last year. The port’s development also contributes to the growth of Gwadar city.
Beijing had no idea the Khan administration was seeking to leverage Gwadar to persuade the Saudis to provide Pakistan with oil on a deferred-payment basis, so as to ease the pressure on its forex reserves and reduce the amount it would need to borrow from the IMF.
Asad Umar, the Pakistani finance minister, has admitted China was not informed about the prospective Saudi investment at Gwadar, the CPEC’s crowning glory. It was merely told that Pakistan planned to involve unspecified third-party investors, an idea China has always been open to because of the broader objectives of the belt and road plan.
When VOC asked is China upset on the possible investment of Saudi Arabia in CPEC "Not at all," said Lijian Zhao the deputy chief of the Chinese embassy in Islamabad.
In a detailed interview, the senior Chinese diplomat asserted that Beijing itself has been encouraging Islamabad to engage in investments in CPEC from other countries.
CPEC is estimated to bring $62 billion in Chinese investments to Pakistan over the next 15 years for building transportation networks, special economic zones and power plants to help Islamabad improve its manufacturing capacity and overcome energy shortages.
China has already invested more than $19 billion in 22 "early harvest" projects in Pakistan since the two countries launched the massive infrastructure development project four years ago.
The Chinese investment has helped Pakistan upgrade and construct new highways and power plants that have effectively addressed electricity shortages in Pakistan. It has also created more than 70,000 jobs for locals.
"If any other party would like to contribute positive factors to promote the interconnectivity and prosperity of the region on the basis of consultation, I think this is a positive factor," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters Monday. He was responding to Pakistan's invitation to the Saudis to invest in the bilateral development project.
People have removed the security lens and have begun to look at Pakistan from an economic diplomacy lens…This is a major shift because for the past five years, only China was looking at Pakistan through the economic diplomacy lens.
“Pakistan is gonna be a very, very important country in the future and we want to be sure that we are part of that,” Mohammad Bin Suleman reportedly said.