The US has once again warned Pakistan strongly about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The US has made it clear that if Pakistan does not step back on this agreement, it will have serious consequences. It may face long-term economic loss.
It is certain that if the US adopts a tough stand, Pakistan will have no option. This attitude of the US is supportive of India’s view. India has been opposed to this project since the beginning. There have been many reasons for this, the prime one being its passage through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
On Thursday, top US diplomat Alice Wells said that the purpose of this CPEC was the furtherance of China’s ambition in south Asia. It aspires to be a key player in the region. The US diplomat said that Pakistan was not going to get anything from this agreement; it would benefit Beijing alone whereas the US could offer a better model to Pakistan.
Wells, who is the principal deputy assistant secretary, US Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, stressed that China was not simply investing in this expensive scheme; its purpose is to buy out Pakistan by giving it huge loans. The strategy that China has adopted in the construction of this project will increase unemployment in Pakistan, the diplomat said. He said the way only Chinese workers were working in the project, it will generate terrible unemployment in Pakistan. Pakistan is unaware of his intention, Wells opined.
India opposes CPEC because the corridor passes through Gilgit-Baltistan in PoK and the disputed territory of Balochistan in Pakistan. This project, combining traffic and energy, will develop the port in the sea, opening the way for China’s access to the Indian territory in the Indian Ocean.
On 18 December 2017, China and Pakistan together approved the long-term plan of this economic corridor. China calls this ambitious project “One Belt One Road” or the ‘New Silk Route’.
The foundation stone of the four-lane vehicle route was laid in November 2016. Under this scheme, China and Pakistan will remain economic partners until 2030.
Pakistan has also approved the use of Chinese Yuan for this scheme.
According to international law, CPEC is illegal.
The economic corridor is a 2,442 km long project from Pakistan’s Gwadar to Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang province. It is estimated to cost $ 46 billion. China is investing such a huge amount of money in Pakistan that it is more than double of all the foreign direct investment (FDI) Pakistan received since 2008. This investment by China is more than the total financial assistance Pakistan has received from the US since 2002.
For the Chinese, this relationship is of strategic importance. This corridor will provide China the shortest route to the Middle East and Africa, where thousands of Chinese companies are doing business.
The project will also provide connectivity to Xinjiang and allow state-run and private companies to carry out their economic activities in the backward areas en route, which will create employment opportunities.
The US has reduced its financial aid by clamping down on Pakistan.
With India’s growing proximity to America, China is trying to sweeten its relationship with Pakistan. China wants to increase pressure on India by promoting the development of Pakistan.
Currently, the only commercial route for China to reach the Middle East, Africa and Europe is the Malacca Strait; Apart from being long, it can also be closed during a war.
China is also trying an eastern corridor that will travel through Myanmar, Bangladesh and possibly India to the Bay of Bengal.