Is CPEC, The game changer or a game itself?

We are moving towards an era of competition and that too on the basis of economic warfare. The nuclear war era is already gone. In this age, the economic strangling of other countries could lead to their devastation, which is a policy applied by all the developed countries. When we talk about the Pakistan economy it is a common belief that the Pakistan economy is falling apart. but the fact is Pakistan economy is one of the emerging economies of the world with a GDP worth 312.57 billion US dollars in 2018. While a multi-billion project in the current scenario can act as the game changer for this nation.

Pakistan economy was managing to hold its own against all the obstacles. When it seemed that maybe now, is the time when Pakistan’s economy would fall apart. But then suddenly the Chinese government seems to be interested in Pakistan’s geographical position especially Gawadar in Pakistan. hence, CPEC Pakistan a major and pilot project of One belt and one road (OBOR) worth approximately $960 billion came into being in 2013. CPEC is an important consensus reached by two countries.

The game changer

History:

The silk road was considered as the most famous trade route for centuries. It was initiated from China and was as long as 4000Km. The Silk Road map, if seen, was a network of trade routes connecting China with far-middle East and Europe. This trade route officially opened trade with the West in 120 BC but this trade route was boycotted by the Ottoman empire. The East-West trade route between China and Greece opened in the first and second century BC.

Amazingly in the Greek Language, China was called as “Seres”. It means ‘Land of Silk’. This clearly indicates the Silk road which found its roots deep down in China. However, despite this clear link, the name Silk road wasn’t coined until 1877. A German geographer and historian basically found the name for this trade route. Silk road map if observed and ponder upon, was one gem of a trade route.

silk road map

CPEC The Game Changer

CPEC was signed in April 2013 by Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan. This was undoubtedly the finest project signed between two countries to harness economic glory. A pilot project of OBOR, since its inception, was considered the game changer for Pakistan. It is a pilot project of OBOR. As of January 2019, CPEC included 9 completed projects and 13 projects under construction of 19 billion US dollars. It also created 70,000 jobs in Pakistan. When signed, originally valued at $46 billion. but now as of January 2017, the worth of this project stands at $62 billion. It is a foreign-invested project which was done in order to enhance Gawadar infrastructure by building the world’s deepest seaport. while Gwadar in Pakistan seems to be the major beneficiary.

Infrastructural development

A structure of roads is to be laid down from the Xingjiang province of China to Gawadar. In this regards many projects are in pipeline. Some of them include

  • Peshawar Karachi Motorway
  • Khuzdar Basima Road (110km)
  • KKH phase II (Thakot-Havelian section)
  • Expansion and reconstruction of ML-I railway line

So why all these infrastructure projects? what could possibly China reap out of it? These are some commonly asked questions. But by pondering upon them, we can come up with some conclusions. As if China exports its products to Africa through seaways it would take approximately 2 weeks to deliver to its required destination. but if China is exporting its products from China to Gawadar in Pakistan and then to Africa, As a result, it would take a mere 4 days at most. We can clearly understand why China is investing so heavily in Pakistan because the outcomes related to it can change the horizons for China.

Perks of being the major stakeholder of Multibillion project

If it is regarded as the game changer for Pakistan so it must be having something really astounding for the Pakistan economy. Some benefits related to CPEC are enlisted below:

  • To develop underprivileged areas of the country especially Balochistan
  • To develop tourism
  • Employment opportunities
  • Develop industrial sector
  • Alleviation of the energy crisis
  • Improving infrastructure connectivity of Pakistan
  • Development of Gawadar in Pakistan as the next industrial hub

CPEC an answer to Pakistan Macroeconomic deadlock

Pakistan’s macroeconomic conditions have been deteriorating by each passing day. But CPEC Pakistan came like a blessing in disguise for this country’s economy. China has provided Pakistan with $5.874 Billion concessional loans with an interest rate as low as 2%. It is a clear gesture that the Chinese government doesn’t want to burden Pakistan’s economy in any way. The government also provided $143 million for the Gawadar-East-Bay Expressway project. While the energy crisis is one of the major issues which has been shattering our economic progress dreams for ages. There isn’t any second opinion that the current era is an industrial age. In order to stand in the ranks of these developing countries, Pakistan needs to remodel its industrial infrastructure and solve the energy crisis.

trade route

Alleviating Pakistan’s energy crisis

While for any industry to prosper continuous power supply is the key requirement. But with frequent breakdowns of electricity in our country, we are really far away from achieving our dreams. but CPEC has many such projects in the pipeline which can solve Pakistan’s eternal issue of the energy crisis. The electricity gap cost Pakistan an annual average loss of $13.5 billion in GDP, according to a study by PwC in 2012. Since its inception, CPEC has added 3340 MW electricity to the national grid by April 2019. While CPEC targets to reap 7240 MW electricity from its current 12 projects. Alleviating Pakistan’s energy crisis can be a major milestone in Pakistan’s history. Alleviating energy crisis is not more a daydream. Thereby, in some manner, CPEC is proving to be the game changer.

Thanks to CPEC, Pakistan’s economic indicators are improving day by day. As a multi-billion project, it was expected to harness such fruitful results. There has been a certain momentum gained by our economy. FDI’s are flowing. Over the past 5 years, the Pakistan economy grew by an average of 4.77%. Especially in the 2017-18 fiscal year, Pakistan economy grew by 5.8%, the highest rate in the past 13 years.

CPEC as a debt trap

China is emerging as the next superpower of this world. but attaining such stature isn’t any walk in the park. In order to enhance its supremacy, China is capturing the world’s economies and strangling them. A lethal move is known as a debt trap. Lets’s dissect their actions. Srilanka is one of their major victims whose economy has been strangled. Hambantota port investment project which was funded by China, which was leased to China Merchant Port Holdings Limited (CM Port) for 99 years for $1.12 billion in 2017. This was a clear example of Srilanka falling into China’s debt trap. Many excuses and different sides of the story were explained by the Srilankan government, which induced a concept of balance of payment crisis. This tempted Srilanka to handover its port to China. Still, the debt trap conspiracy strays around.

Mahathir Mohammad a man with a vision or delusion

Who doesn’t know about this courageous tiger of Malaysia? An aged tiger who is still determined to serve his nation. you must have heard, ‘The oldest wine tastes the best’, this example can be easily implied to this man, Mahathir Mohammad. ‘We cannot afford this’, was Malaysia’s strong statement against the vision of OBOR. Forest city, project a renowned project worth $100 billion was initiated in Malaysia. A pollution free zone is to be built in Malaysia and China was the major investor. China was clearly interested in the strategic importance of Malaysia. As Malaysia is a neighbor to Singapore, an economic rival for China. while debt trap conspiracy was stil in the air.

Mahathir Mohammad was still clear in his intentions and broke Chinese power in this project by inducing a ban over-allocating its localities to nonforeigners. As Malaysians feared a new era of colonialism in the country. Thus, Malaysia is pulling itself away from this mega project of OBOR. As Mahathir Mohammad fears the unknown. Now the question is whether the person who has served his nation is visionary enough? or delusional.

Mahathir Mohammad

SEZs is the beginning of the game changer

The major breakthrough of CPEC is safe economic zones (SEZs). A zone built where industrialization will be promoted by setting world-class industrial infrastructure with tax-free zones for approximately 10 years.

In this regard first SEZ was inaugurated in Rashakai, KPK. Earlier reports say that more than 30 industries will be set up in that zone. Here the major question arises that what’ll be the future of Pakistan industries? As with the infiltration of Chinese industries, competition is due to aggravating. A condition of survival of the fittest is expected to be created. While China reaping more benefits due to its advancement in technology and skilled labor. Pakistan should be expecting a hefty blow and competition in this zone.

It quite clearly depicts that China will soon take over the industrial hub, Gawadar in Pakistan. In addition to establishing it as the major trade route, connecting the world. It’ll be easily sabotaging our much improved industrial infrastructure aims. As China already made clear, 91% of revenue generated from the Gawadar port will be of China. From this perspective, its a trap to strangle the Pakistan economy by limiting its resources ultimately decreasing the products. Economic and trade pundits are predicting different worst-case scenarios. But on the other hand, many of them are terming it as a game-changer. For now, it is an unanswerable question. However, the flow of time will clear the bigger picture. because the Government is yet not revealing the agreements signed between them. So, let time decides fate.

Mustajab Shah is a freelance writer, economic analyst, and researcher. By profession, he is a pharmacist with detail insight over medical and health care issues. With several online courses and awards, his writings have enchanted many hearts. As his curiosity for answers produces a magnetic effect in his writing.