OPINION Corridor to Prosperity
The CPEC project is not looked upon with much favour by India though it will spell good for the whole region.
The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a mega development project proposed to link Pakistan’s south western region and the Gwadar port with China’s north western region of Xinjiang. The corridor is aimed to have a strong communication network across Pakistan and Xinjiang and it is estimated that it will be completed in three years. The corridor is being described as a strategic game changer in the region and will make Pakistan economically much stronger.
The project has raised many concerns in the Indian establishment, most of which have their source in India’s relations with China since the 1950s and and with Pakistan ever since the two countries became independent in 1947. The Indian government has let its objections to the Corridor be known quite openly. The CPEC will link Gilgit Baltistan to the Chinese Kashgar region through the Karakoram Highway and will lead into the Pakistani mainland and down to Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, displayed his fears over CPEC during a 90-minute session with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 7th BRICS summit in Ufa, Russia..
Through CPEC, China is contemplating to exploit the rich energy and natural resources of Central Asia. A United States finding in 2010 calculated that Afghanistan is sitting on mineral resources worth one trillion dollars. Some of the mineral ores are also present in Balochistan on the Pakistan side.
Bloomberg Business, in its review of April 1, 2015, stated, “The move represents a shift toward greater economic cooperation between Pakistan and China, which have long had close security ties amid common
disputes with neighboring India. The corridor would give China access to the Indian Ocean and lead to investments that would help ease power shortages that are hindering economic growth in Pakistan.”
As indicated in a detailed account given by Feroz Hasan Khan in his book 'Eating Grass', it is clear that China's assistance was basic for development in Pakistan. The requirement for capital has been included as the propelling element. A few analysts have also said that the endeavor to boost India's military power may be the third cause behind Pakistan getting closer to China. While China may have been of no specific help in Pakistan's two wars with India, in 1965 and 1971, it has been looking at Pakistan as a key player in its bigger plan for the region.
The Indian official position regarding CPEC so far is one of displeasure. It disapproves of an international highway inside a territory it claims as its own – the state of Jammu & Kashmir. On the other hand, the Chinese view J&K as a disputed territory and virtually recognizes Pakistan’s claim on it. This is not the only factor straining SinoIndian relations. The two Asian giants have fought a war (1962) and have had many skirmishes over their claims on the territory between the Indian and Chinese borders.
China, a major global economic power with a strong manufacturing base, caters to virtually the entire world and is looking for delivery routes to markets in the west, in Africa, West Asia and Europe and also markets in Central and South Asia. It intends to further boost the prospects of commerce and economic cooperation between China and these regions and CPEC would be very handy in this respect. The CPEC stands to benefit the populations of all these regions and will also revive the old silk route which existed until the Mongol period.
It is true that there are serious differences over disputed territories in the CPEC, but there are chances of an environment being created that will address the issues, mostly economic and promote trade. The CPEC project has all the potential of bringing peace and economic growth to the region, improve living standards and make remote and far-flung regions accessible.