China-Pakistan Economic Corridor CPEC

(Mouid Nadeem Samana, Karachi)

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor also known by the acronym CPEC is an under-construction $54 Billion economic corridor in Pakistan, that aims to connect Gawadar Port in Southwestern Pakistan with Xinjiang in far-western China. The project is a collection of various infrastructure and energy projects and includes the establishment of special economic zones. On 13th November 2016, CPEC became partly operational with Chinese cargo was transported overland to Gawadar Port for onward maritime shipment to Africa and West Asia.

The corridor comprises a vast network of highways and railways to be built, spanning the length and breadth of Pakistan in order to link seaports in Gawadar and Karachi with the Chinese Region of Xinjiang. Infrastructure projects are worth approximately $11 billion, and will be financed by subsidized concessionary loans that will be dispersed by the Exim bank of China, China Development Bank, and the ICBC. As part of the broad package of infrastructure projects under CPEC, a 1100 kilometre long motorway will be constructed between the cities of Karachi and Lahore, While the Karakoram Highway between Rawalpindi and the Chinese border will be completely reconstructed and overhauled. The Karachi-Peshawar main railway line will also be updated to allow for train travel at upto 160KM per hour by December 2019. Pakistan's railway network will also be extended to eventually connet to China's Sotheren Xinjiang Railway in Kashgar.

Over $33 billion worth of energy infrastructure are to be connected by private consortia to help alleviate Pakistan's chronic energy shortages, which regularly amount to over for, 500MW, and have shed an estimated 2-2.5% off Pakistan's annual gross domestic product. Over 10,400MW of energy generating capacity is to be brought online by the end of 2018, with the majority developed as part of CPEC's fast-tracked "Early Harvest" projects. A network of pipelines to transport liquefied natural gas and oil will also be laid as part of the project, including a $2.5 billion pipeline between Gawadar and Nawabshah to eventually transport gas from Iran. Electricity from these Projects will trimarily be generated from fossil fuels, though hydroelectric and wind-power projects are also included, as is the contruction of one of the world's largest solar farms.

CPEC's potential impact on Pakistan has been likened to that of the Marshal plan undertaking by the United States in post-war Europe. Pakistani officials predict that CPEC will result in the creation of upwards of 2.3 Million jobs between 2015-2030, and at 2 to 2.5 percentage points to the country's annual economic growth. Were all the plan projects to be implemented, the value of those projects would be equal to all foreign direct investment in Pakistan since 1970, and would be equivalent to 17% of Pakistan's 2015 gross domestic product.

Pakistan Navy and Chinese Navy ships are to jointly guard the safety and security of the trade corridor, as Pakistan seeks to expand the roll of it's maritime forces. From December 2016, Pakistan's Navy established as a special taskforce "TF-88" to ensure there is maritime security for trade. Chairman Parliamentary Committee on CPEC confirmed that Sindh province will dispatch 2000 police officers, while Punjab will dispatch 5000 police officers for the project, while the Pakistani Army will deploy 12,000 troops to saveguard the route. China plans to transfer 4 ships to the Maritime Security Agency with two ships called PMSS Hingol and PMSS Basol. For territorial security. Pakistan has formed the Special Security Division. Pakistan plans to train 12,000 security personnel to protect Chinese workers on the corridor. As of August 2015, 8,000 Pakistani security officials were deployed for the protection of over 8,100 Chinese workers in Pakistan. As part of CPEC, Pakistan has boosted it's International engagement in terms of foreign policy with China, Iran, USA, Turkey and Malaysia are to be engaged for the maritime economy related to CPEC. Iranian President Rouhani revealed his intentions to Pakistan to join CPEC in a meeting at the UN Russia has also expressed support for CPEC.

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17 May, 2017 Views: 631

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