CPEC China -pakistan relations | Strange Military Stories

The China-Pakistan relations, over a period of time, have evolved to the extent that some scholars aptly call Pakistan China's Israel. The relations have deepened to the extent that China has been willing to supply nuclear materials to Pakistan. Pakistan has acted as a bridge for the US and China during the Cold War and a frontline state for the US to contain Soviets in last stages of the same. 

Today, China clearly believes that Pakistan has a core part to play in its transition to a global power, as it lies at the heart of China's plan for ports and railways for oil and gas. As China engages more with the Islamic world for resources, the more it would need Pakistan to counter the influence of rising Islamic extremism so that it brings stability in the western periphery of China and also in its Islam-dominated domestic provinces like Xinjang.

This relation is based largely on self-interest of China, which intends to expand and reach out to the world. Apart from this, Pakistan otherwise serves no deep interests for China. It is rather an investment by China in its own geopolitical well-being than any sort of expectation of a quid pro quo. One of the greatest achievements of this long-standing friendship is the CPEC. The CPEC comes at a time of growing geopolitical ambition of China, being partly a developmental initiative and partly a strategic gambit.

One of the important aims of the CPEC is to bolster the Pakistani economy by addressing the key infrastructure constraints in Pakistan and facilitate the development of Pakistan by establishing a connect from Kashgar in China to Gwadar in Pakistan. In March 2015, China's National Development and Reform Committee announced the OBOR Initiative. The CPEC is a part of the OBOR and was formalised in April 2015 between Pakistan and China, who concluded around 51 memorandum of understanding with a total investment of 46 billion dollars.

Cpec map


The OBOR has an overland component called the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and a maritime component called the Maritime Silk Road (MSR). The CPEC is a flagship project that will have the potential to serve as a fusion of MSR and SREB. It is now believed that the conclusion of CPEC as a link from Arabian Sea from Pakistan to China through land-based CPEC can help alleviate the Chinese Malaccan Dilemma. China also faces threat due to rising Islamic extremism in Xinjiang province, especially from ethnic figures. Over a period of time, the Uyghurs have taken refuge in Pakistan. 

The Uyghur extremist have established relations with al-Qaeda, Taliban and other Pakistani extremists, and China feels that such a relation might endanger Chinese interests in Pakistan. Thus, China's CPEC is designed to create jobs in Pakistan and reduce antistate sentiments, thereby providing more resources for Pakistani security agencies that Pakistan would use to safeguard the corridor. The CPEC is created in the manner that it will help Pakistan generate revenue to quell the Jihadi threat, thereby ultimately helping China to protect its own western periphery alongside, giving it an alternative route to the Strait of Malacca. Pakistan also feels that the project will help it to gain mileage politically in elections and also strengthen Pakistan against India.

Once the CPEC materialises, it will be a blessing for the economy of Pakistan and will transform the country into a regional trade and energy hub. From the Chinese point of view, successful materialisation of the OBOR and CPEC would help China achieve the dream of constructive engagement announced by Xi Jinping. It will reduce Chinese vulnerability to oceanic piracy and provide China an opportunity to connect with South, Central and West Asia. 

One of the options for India is to protest against CPEC as it passes through disputed territory, but, this protest ultimately cannot halt the CPEC project. C. Raja Mohan aptly suggests that an alternative is that India open up its land routes for China to connect to Pakistan, by which India can also eventually gain economically.

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