China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Politics, security risk amid sweeping China influence

The 231-page CPEC long-term plan document envisages a deep and broad-based penetration of most sectors of Pakistan’s economy as well as its society by Chinese enterprises and culture

Written by Sushant Singh | New Delhi | Updated: May 16, 2017 11:41 pm
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, CPEC, China influence, China politics, Pakistan economy, Indian Express, Indian Express News It identifies port of Gwadar “as the direct hinterland connecting Balochistan and Afghanistan”. Reuters file

A long-term plan document of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has identified the politics and security situation in Pakistan as the biggest risk to the $54-billion project, reports the Dawn newspaper. “There are various factors affecting Pakistani politics, such as competing parties, religion, tribes, terrorists, and Western intervention,” the document notes. “The security situation is the worst in recent years,” it adds. The 231-page CPEC long-term plan document envisages a deep and broad-based penetration of most sectors of Pakistan’s economy as well as its society by Chinese enterprises and culture.

While its main aim is to connect South Xinjiang with Pakistan, the CPEC corridor “spans Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and whole Pakistan in spatial range”. It identifies the strategic Pakistani port of Gwadar “as the direct hinterland connecting Balochistan and Afghanistan”.

Watch: Opinion | CPEC: Chinese Colonisation of Pakistan?

According to the Dawn report, the 15-year plan for CPEC will include a full system of monitoring and surveillance in cities from Peshawar to Karachi, with 24-hour video recordings on roads and busy marketplaces for law and order. A national fibreoptic backbone will be built for Pakistan not only for internet traffic, Dawn reports, but also for terrestrial distribution of broadcast TV, which will cooperate with Chinese media in the “dissemination of Chinese culture”.

In addition, thousands of acres of agricultural land in Pakistan will be leased out to Chinese enterprises to set up “demonstration projects” in areas ranging from seed varieties to irrigation technology.

These details are contained in the document, which was drawn up in 2015 by the China Development Bank and the National Development Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China.

As per Dawn, the CPEC also seeks to create an electronic monitoring and control system for the border in Khunjerab, as well as run a “safe cities” project. “There is a plan to build a pilot safe city in Peshawar, which faces a fairly severe security situation in northwestern Pakistan,” the plan says, following which the program will be extended to major cities such as Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi,” the plan states.

The safe city project will deploy explosive detectors and scanners to “cover major roads, case-prone areas and crowded places to conduct real-time monitoring and 24-hour video recording.”

The CPEC plan, Dawn reports, envisages a terrestrial cable across the Khunjerab pass to Islamabad, and a submarine landing station in Gwadar, linked to Sukkur.China has various reasons for wanting a terrestrial fibreoptic link with Pakistan, including its own limited number of submarine landing stations and international gateway exchanges which can serve as a bottleneck to future growth of internet traffic.

“Moreover, China’s telecom services to Africa need to be transferred in Europe, so there is certain hidden danger of the overall security”, the plan states. The plan states that the main aim of CPEC is to connect South Xinjiang with Pakistan and the CPEC corridor “spans Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and whole Pakistan in spatial range”.

As a CPEC entreport, the plan recommends that Gwadar port be built into “a base of heavy and chemical industries, such as iron and steel/ petrochemical”. It notes that “some Chinese enterprises have started investment and construction in Gwadar” taking advantage of its “superior geographical position and cheap shipping costs to import crude oil from the Middle East, iron ore and coking coal resources from South Africa and New Zealand”.

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App

    Live Cricket Scores & Results