CPEC: The bumpy new trade route between China and Pakistan

India is not exactly welcoming towards the Chinese funded project, mainly because of the fact that it crosses through the Pakistan occupied part of Kashmir.

Written by Adrija Roychowdhury | New Delhi | Updated: November 16, 2016 10:55 am
CPEC, Pakistan, China, Balochistan, Balochistan protests, CPEC in Pakistan, what is CPEC, China Pakistan relations, Chinese in Pakistan, Gwadar port, India pakistan relations, Pakistan occupied Kashmir, Indian Express When China decided to develop the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2015, the idea was to deepen economic ties with Pakistan.(Source: Reuters photo)

A new international trade route in Southwest Pakistan opened up on Sunday by a Chinese ship exporting goods to the Middle East and Africa. The route that is being developed by the Chinese in Pakistan is expected to make huge amount of economic gains for the country.

When China decided to develop the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in 2015, the idea was to deepen economic ties with Pakistan and ensure security for China’s larger ‘One belt, one road’ project. Involving an investment of $46 billion, the project is the means by which China can ensure the quickest availability of energy resources from the Middle East by avoiding the Malacca straits and the South China sea.

Over the year, however, the project has witnessed a large number of obstacles, especially resulting from the poor economic conditions in Balochistan which forms the bulk of the area in which the CPEC is being developed and the opposition to the project meted out by the locals.

What is the CPEC?

The CPEC is one of the most important projects of the ‘one belt, one road’ project initiated by China that aims to connect the Asian economic giant with Europe and Africa, thereby making the country a bigger player in world economic affairs. Consisting of a number of road, rail and pipeline ventures, the CPEC connects Xinjiang in Northwestern region of China with Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian sea, going over the Pakistan occupied Kashmir territory of Gilgit-Baltistan and the disputed region of Balochistan. Reportedly, the port at Gwadar will have the capacity to manage 19 million tons of crude oil which will be directly transferred to China.

CPEC, Pakistan, China, Balochistan, Balochistan protests, CPEC in Pakistan, what is CPEC, China Pakistan relations, Chinese in Pakistan, Gwadar port, India pakistan relations, Pakistan occupied Kashmir, Indian Express The CPEC connects Xinjiang in Northwestern region of China with Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian sea, going over the Pakistan occupied Kashmir territory of Gilgit-Baltistan and the disputed region of Balochistan. (Google maps)

The project had been conceived much earlier in the 1950s, but failed to achieve completion over the years due to political instability in Pakistan. Its present form was announced by the Chinese government in November 2014 and work started off in April 2015. As a multi-million dollar project, the CPEC is reported to have brought Pakistan twice the amount of foreign investments the country received since 2008.

How does it benefit Pakistan?

In the words of Pakistani leaders, their relationship with China is “higher than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, stronger than steel and sweeter than honey”. For Pakistan, the Chinese investment in the south-western region of the country is a game-changer for the economy, especially considering the fact that despite the high concentration of mineral resources in the region it has remained the poorest district.

CPEC, Pakistan, China, Balochistan, Balochistan protests, CPEC in Pakistan, what is CPEC, China Pakistan relations, Chinese in Pakistan, Gwadar port, India pakistan relations, Pakistan occupied Kashmir, Indian Express The $46 billion promised by China will be used in generating close to 17,000 megawatts of electricity at a cost of $34 billion through coal, nuclear and other renewable energy projects. (Source: Reuters photo)

The $46 billion promised by China will be used in generating close to 17,000 megawatts of electricity at a cost of $34 billion through coal, nuclear and other renewable energy projects. The rest of the money would be utilised in building up transport infrastructure. According to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif the development of the Balochistan province could make Pakistan a regional hub of economic activities.

Why is it opposed by Balochistan?

All of Pakistan is not unanimous in its claims of high gains being made from the Chinese initiated project. The strongest opposition to the investment comes from the disputed territory of Balochistan that has historically had strained relations with the government of Pakistan.

The province of Balochistan is the largest district in the country and its importance lies in the high concentration of natural resource. Despite this, it has remained the poorest province in Pakistan. The conflict with the Pakistani government is rooted in a feeling of nationalism that stretches back to the 1948 when the province was allegedly made a part of Pakistan on unfair terms. That apart, there is also a feeling of political and economic isolation that the government of Pakistan has not been able to erase in all these years.

CPEC, Pakistan, China, Balochistan, Balochistan protests, CPEC in Pakistan, what is CPEC, China Pakistan relations, Chinese in Pakistan, Gwadar port, India pakistan relations, Pakistan occupied Kashmir, Indian Express Abductions of activists and even civilians have for long been a problem in Balochistan.

The strongest grievance of the Baloch nationalist groups against CPEC is that benefits from developmental projects like these are almost always, unfairly distributed, majority of the employment opportunities and profits going to non-Balochs, especially Punjabis. The Baloch Republican Party, a separatist group, recently made its opposition to the CPEC very clear, stating that an economic pact between China and Pakistan would lead to both countries utilising the resources of Balochistan that belong to the locals. They further believe that an increase in military operations and abductions are a direct result of the pact between Pakistan and China. There is also the fear that the initiation of the project would lead to the influx of a large number of non-Balochs, thereby demographically outnumbering the Balochs in the region.

Abductions of activists and even civilians have for long been a problem in Balochistan. Allegedly, they are carried out by Pakistan’s military forces in order to subjugate the separatist movement. As per the International Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (IIVBMP), a protest group formed by families of missing people in Balochistan, between 2001 and 2013, about 18,000 people have gone missing in the area, out of which around 2000 have been killed.

In the wake of the thriving separatist movement in Balochistan, the Pakistan government has vowed to increase military surveillance in the area in order to quell Chinese fears. Reportedly, a sum of $250 million has been promised by the Pakistani government for the sake of building a new security force in the region.

A result of these new arrangement has been a strengthening opposition to the project by the Baloch nationalist groups. Protest movements are being held outside Balochistan as well. In August this year, separatist groups staged a protest outside the Chinese embassy in London. Baloch activists have been particularly reaching out to India, asking the country’s media and bureaucracy to raise the issue of atrocities against Baloch nationalists onto the international stage. In September, a group of Balochis along with Indians held a joint protest outside the United Nations headquarters in New York asking for UN intervention in order to protect the Balochis.

What are the challenges being faced by China?

For the Chinese, security in the province of Balochistan has been the biggest concern. Reportedly, Baloch separatists, especially those from the Baloch Liberation Army, have been abducting and killing foreigners, particularly the Chinese. In May 2014, a Chinese tourist had been kidnapped from Dera Islmail Khan, close to the balochistan border. In March 2015, five oil tankers carrying fuel from Karachi, reportedly for a Chinese company was set on fire. The Balochistan Liberation Army was accused for the attack. Further disruptions to the infrastructural projects are being anticipated by other Islamist groups and splinter factions of the Pakistani Taliban. The prime motive of these acts is to make the Pakistan government appear incapable of providing adequate security measures.

However, the Pakistani government has been continuously assuring the Chinese state of security to their personnel and assets in the region. Although the CPEC is being funded by China, at the initial stage of the project, only Pakistani personnel would be involved in the construction. Chinese personnel are expected to come in after the first stage, by which time the Pakistani government has promised to take requisite measures to curb militancy.

How is India responding?

India is not exactly welcoming towards the Chinese funded project, mainly because of the fact that it crosses through the Pakistan occupied part of Kashmir. Earlier in September, PM Modi expressed his concerns over CPEC to President Xi Jinping of China at a bilateral meeting between the two leaders. He is reported to have told the Chinese president that both countries need to be ‘sensitive’ towards their respective strategic interests. A response to the Chinese development of Gwadar is the bilateral agreement between India and Iran to develop the Chabahar port.

CPEC, Pakistan, China, Balochistan, Balochistan protests, CPEC in Pakistan, what is CPEC, China Pakistan relations, Chinese in Pakistan, Gwadar port, India pakistan relations, Pakistan occupied Kashmir, Indian Express Earlier in September, PM Modi expressed his concerns over CPEC to President Xi Jinping of China at a bilateral meeting between the two leaders. (Express Archive)

In the recent past though experts on South Asian politics have been ringing alarm bells that any act on the part of India that explicitly opposes CPEC might lead to strained relations between India and China.

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App now

First Published on: November 13, 2016 6:10 pm
  1. h
    http://hairstylesforchubbyfaces.com/
    Jan 9, 2017 at 7:42 pm
    best check it hairstyles fat women
    Reply
    1. A
      Ahmed
      Nov 13, 2016 at 1:14 pm
      A dream finally came true. What India has gained, nothing other than the hate and bad sentiments. The same pirt can be beneficial for India as well for exports to China and central asian republics. Lets join hands together and eradicate poverty from our countries. Now or never
      Reply
      1. I
        Ikok
        Nov 13, 2016 at 1:59 pm
        62 people killed with 100s injured just to sabotage today's opening ceremony.. India will isolate itself as the world knows very well about the corrupt and nefarious aims of it.. People of stan will never be discouraged by these cowardly acts. In fact the hate will be widen
        Reply
        1. I
          Ikok
          Nov 13, 2016 at 6:25 pm
          @Atul Chandra.. To cut short your long sympathic story.. India has recently given its basis to USA. and given a billion to Afghanistan to carry on the nefarious agenda under the umbrella of RAW against stan to sabotage the same CEPEC .. and given 1 billion to Iran for compeive port and 500 million to veitnam for influence in the east sea. Please check how is your agenda and spendings used negatively .. India will be big looser if kept on heading on the same policies and agenda
          Reply
          1. A
            Akmal
            Nov 13, 2016 at 1:08 pm
            I hope CPEC brings prosperity not only to stan but also to the neighbouring countries.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;All regional states should make use of the infrastructure that has been created to bolster their economies and forge stronger ties with one another. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;A Brit-Pak
            Reply
            1. A
              Arsi
              Nov 13, 2016 at 1:36 pm
              We will try to sabotage your CPEC until you provide gurente to us that no Beef OR Beef product will be consumed on CPEC.
              Reply
              1. A
                Ashok
                Nov 13, 2016 at 6:37 pm
                India opposing CPEC as if the Chinese will listen.
                Reply
                1. A
                  Amit
                  Nov 14, 2016 at 6:07 am
                  India is fastest growing economy, also after china india is the leading one. stan is just a slave of china. Be ready for slavery😂
                  Reply
                  1. H
                    Himanshu
                    Dec 24, 2016 at 4:57 am
                    Seriously... 😂😂😂 lt;br/gt;Ur comment is equal to saying tiger hating a fox because of its hunting..
                    Reply
                    1. K
                      kash
                      Nov 14, 2016 at 11:16 am
                      The writer's ertion that "The strongest opposition to the investment comes from the disputed territory of Balochistan" is a complete fabrication and betrays the envious and emty nature of this indian rat. Look on the united nations map and you will find balochistan is an internationally recognised part of stan. There is however one territory in this region which according to the United nation is disputed.. and that is Kashmir, no matter how loud indians shout from the roof tops to the contrary .They just cannot change the facts on the ground that according to the internationl law KAHMIR has been a disputed territory since 1948 and will remain so until the people of Kashmir decide their future through a plebiscite in accordance with the United nations resolutions. These are the facts and not mere ertions and outright lies. Then again one must not be surprised by the standard of journalism from a clutch of slum dwelling midgets!
                      Reply
                      1. A
                        Ahs
                        Nov 15, 2016 at 6:42 am
                        haha, you butt hurt born haters which people call you rapists and propaa masters need burnol if not burnol then toothpaste can also work.
                        Reply
                        1. F
                          Fckuindia
                          Nov 13, 2016 at 2:38 pm
                          Disputed region Balochistan? Get your facts right
                          Reply
                          1. A
                            Asad Janjua
                            Nov 22, 2016 at 1:35 pm
                            "Over the year, however, the project has witnessed a large number of obstacles, especially resulting from the poor economic conditions in Balochistan which forms the bulk of the area in which the CPEC is being developed and the opposition to the project meted out by the locals."..............................NOT TRUE!
                            Reply
                            1. B
                              bloch
                              Nov 13, 2016 at 8:10 pm
                              stan and china is king of southasia and india have no future
                              Reply
                              1. A
                                aravind
                                Nov 13, 2016 at 1:28 pm
                                China should first recognize Indian's concern and act. A stable stan is in the interest of India but not the one always trying to bleed India; so the Chinese should ensure the prosperity is not used against India.
                                Reply
                                1. A
                                  aravind
                                  Nov 13, 2016 at 1:28 pm
                                  China should first recognize Indian's concern and act. A stable stan is in the interest of India but not the one always trying to bleed India; so the Chinese should ensure the prosperity is not used against India.
                                  Reply
                                  1. A
                                    Atul Chandra
                                    Nov 13, 2016 at 5:30 pm
                                    stanis have, at least twice, prosuted themselves. Once to US which has left it infected with terrorism and then to Saudi, which has treated it as test tube for Wahabbism and as source of mercenary troops. Both are now abandoning stan. Now stan is selling itself to slavery to the Chinese. US had used stani territory for its purpose, but both Saudi and UD do not share border with stan. China shares a border and is putting up its security personnel from Xinjiang to Gwadar. Once China gets a direct route to the Arabian Sea will it ever let go of it?? China had influence over the 'China Sea' for a few years 500 years ago which they lost to Europeans. Now after 500 years they have claimed the entire China Sea as their own 'property'. Will such hegemony hungry to rule the worldorld, ever leave stani territory??? NEVER.!!!! So stanis are preparing for a China controlled stani land, which may be called Chikistan. stanis may become like Tibetans in that area. Suit yourself. May Allah give you this well deserved slavery.
                                    Reply
                                    1. V
                                      Vincent Chin
                                      Nov 14, 2016 at 9:43 am
                                      I don't understand why India would oppose CPEC if it can benefit the world?
                                      Reply
                                      1. C
                                        Candid Director
                                        Nov 14, 2016 at 4:20 am
                                        I wouldn't worry too much.. Its a long road route and a lot may happen mid-way.. If diplomacy is failing, reoccurring losses will not..
                                        Reply
                                        1. C
                                          Candid Director
                                          Nov 14, 2016 at 4:17 am
                                          Ignore him he's a citizen of bhikhari stan.
                                          Reply
                                          1. F
                                            faheem ahmed
                                            Nov 14, 2016 at 7:50 am
                                            INDIA SHOULD ACCEPT IT PEACEFULLY...BCUZ IT HARMS NOT INDIA NOT BALUCHISTAN...BUT GIVE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE BETTER JOBS
                                            Reply
                                            1. Load More Comments