Emphasis on Gwadar-Kashgar corridor

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at Pakistan's Parliament in Islamabad on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: Yao Dawei

China on Tuesday catapulted itself as Pakistan’s unrivalled partner, riding on a string of mega deals, mainly focussed on developing the Gwadar-Kashgar economic corridor — a passage that would allow Beijing strategic access to the Indian Ocean.

On Monday, visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif signed agreements worth $28 billion, which nearly equals the amount that Islamabad has received in a decade from the United States in support of its war in Afghanistan.

Economic corridor

The bulk of this amount is being spent on the development of the 3,000 km China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which will host roads, railways, energy pipelines and industrial parks. Pakistan says China will invest up to $37 billion in energy projects that would generate 16,400 MW of power.

Concessional loans will fund infrastructure projects worth $10 billion. China wants to develop the corridor as one of the arteries that head out of its restive province of Xinjiang, which can then access the markets of South Asia, West Asia and Africa.

This is possible on account of Gwadar’s location on the tri-junction of these lucrative geographic zones. China is also investing heavily in Xinjiang as a gateway to Central Asia and Europe as part of the Eurasian Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB), President Xi’s signature “belt and road” initiative.

Though CPEC will pass through a lawless, insurgency-prone zone, Pakistan has promised to counter it by deciding to deploy a Special Security Division, consisting of nine battalions of the Army and six battalions of the civilian forces. These troops are meant to ensure the safety of the Chinese workers who are expected to arrive in strength in the area.

During the visit, Mr. Xi met the chiefs of Pakistan’s armed forces, but there was no official word on Tuesday about the widely anticipated $6 billion submarine deal that the two countries were expected to finalise during his stay.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 3:35:39 PM |

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