THE CPEC FAC­TOR

India Today - - COVER STORY -

US started to move out, China be­gan to rapidly scale up its en­gage­ment. China’s stakes in Pak­istan were dra­mat­i­cally raised soon af­ter Xi’s new government took over in 2013. That same year, Xi told the Com­mu­nist Party’s cen­tral com­mit­tee that ‘pe­riph­eral diplo­macy’ would be his fo­cus, start­ing with a plan to re­vive the old Silk Road through a land ‘belt’ to Cen­tral Asia and a ‘mar­itime silk road’ to the In­dian Ocean. Xi de­cided Pak­istan would be the ful­crum of the plan, named the ‘Belt and Road’, with the land and sea arms con­verg­ing on the un­likely lo­ca­tion of Gwadar, a dusty port in Balochis­tan that had come un­der Chi­nese man­age­ment af­ter the Sin­ga­pore­ans with­drew, cit­ing huge losses.

Bei­jing will in the next decade com­plete what it calls the China Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC), link­ing Kash­gar, in China’s western Xin­jiang prov­ince, to Gwadar, com­pris­ing $35 bil­lion worth of en­ergy deals and in­fra­struc­ture projects cost­ing $11 bil­lion. The idea is to cor­rect the im­bal­ance in China’s ties with Pak­istan, says Han Hua, a lead­ing South Asia strate­gic ex­pert at Pek­ing Univer­sity. “We have largely only had a mil­i­tary re­la­tion­ship, but now we are adding a whole new com­po­nent,” she says. So for the first time, China will be ship­ping in tens of thou­sands of en­gi­neers, work­ers and per­son­nel into Pak­istan, as well as pour­ing in bil­lions of dol­lars. For bet­ter or for worse, Bei­jing is now deeply in­vested in the coun­try’s suc­cess.

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