CPEC and China’s Strategic Interest in Pakistan

The writer is a  political science and history  graduate from LUMS and is interested in religion and world politics, colonialism and central&south Asian History
The writer is a political science and history graduate from LUMS and is interested in religion and world politics, colonialism and central&south Asian History

A broad range of literature has been published so far on the rise of China, the decline of the West and the potential repercussions of these developments on the balance of power in South and . The above mentioned developments will transform the entire strategic and political landscape of and will have far reaching consequences for Pakistan. With geographical, social and religious links ranging back to at least two thousand years, Pakistan and China have embarked on a new venture of strategic and economic partnership after 2005 and the recent agreements in 2015.

The central question remains the same: Why would the assist Pakistan by risking their navy, engineers and technical experts into Pakistani territory for the execution of CPEC and the Gwadar Port? Well, there seems to be a strategic angle to this equation. The Malacca dilemma is one of the most pressing foreign policy concerns of China. The Chinese aspire to maintain their economic growth to help them achieve their great power ambitions. In order to satisfy their energy requirements, the Chinese need an uninterrupted supply of oil but it lacks the naval power to secure its Sea lines of communications. China imports 60 percent of its oil from the Middle East and this figure is expected to rise upto 75%. The Strait of Malacca is a narrow passage between Malaysia and Indonesia with Singapore on its Southern tip. Due to the strong ties of Singapore with the Anglo-American bloc, Chinese need a safe passage of oil into China from the Middle East. Therefore, the only passage that allows their imports to enter is through Gwadar, Pakistan.

This article is an attempt to summarize the strategic importance of Pakistan to the People’s Republic of China. Many commentators have focused on the economic ties between the countries while specifically referring to the $ 46 Billion that has been promised to Pakistan in the form of loans and aid. One of the most important questions asked about in the media today are as follows: why are the Chinese willing to spend so lavishly in Pakistan? How is the terrorism-plagued Pakistan going to facilitate China in exchange for the 46 billion dollars? There are also some myths associated with the questions being asked. One of the myths is that the 46 billion dollars are not going to be a gift for Pakistan from China. Most of the amount is going to be spent on infrastructure including the China Pakistan Economic corridor and the . Second, the Chinese will oversee and monitor the financial resources themselves. Third, the amount that will be spent on energy projects will be provided as a loan to Pakistan.

One important aspect of Chinese foreign policy is that they have learnt from American mistakes in the region. They have identified that investment in infrastructure is the first step towards political stability and economic prosperity in the region. They haven’t intervened in the domestic political decisions of Pakistan. The Chinese have promised Pakistan to assist in its major foreign policy issues regardless of their nature as long as Pakistan promises stability in the regions where both countries share their borders. For instance, China vetoed Indian appeals in the UN to arrest Maulana Masood Azhar, one of the leaders allegedly involved in support of the freedom fighters in Indian held Kashmir.

Co-operation from the Pakistani state will enable China to rid itself of the Malacca Dilemma and continue with its ambitious One Belt, One road plan to connect East Asia with South and Central Asia, Africa and Europe. Pakistan’s geostrategic location, known as the geostrategic curse, has enabled Pakistan to act as a central stakeholder in the rise of China, and if they play it by the rules this time, South Asia.

About the author

Osama Iqbal

The writer is a political science and history graduate from LUMS and is interested in religion and world politics, colonialism and central&south Asian History .


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  • Hello hope every body is fine.

    I just want to tell every body that CPEC main routes are passing from my area, I know the reality that how much economic activity and labour employment is produced through CPEC projects in our area. Hundreds of Pakistani labour is working with them. Pakistani industries especially those related to the construction industry is flourishing rapidly.Moreover the Chinese projects are not only Roads but fibre optic cable,industrial zones which will enable us to industrialise our country and provide jobs and our GDP will have a significant development.Power projects will enable us to resolve our energy issues and we will be able to have sustainable economic development.
    So I just want to tell you all that CPEC is a blessing in this hard time for Pakistan. When no country even our allies in the west are not ready to invest in Pakistan. China supported us in every time so we must not put ourselves in doubts and we must support CPEC and China Pakistan,brotherly relation in order to give a more safer and economically developed Pakistan to our future generations.
    Hope that Allah will help us to strengthen our country. INSHA ALLAH

  • I think ur thinking if geostrategic imprtnce of CPEC is correct up to some extent.
    But as we know that not only china needs oil but its stability in.the region.and oil.is da chunk reason of.it.Surely,this era is the era of black gold and US claims to be the owner of it when the world will face shortge of oil as soon as the middle east’s oil reserves extincts.
    So China would want oil and it cnt let US take all of it.Evry 1 knws of the grwin economy of china,so evn ISIS,who claims to hold major part of oil fields in the middle east would want trade wid china when china entrs the region via CPEC
    Pakistan can benefit frm dis in 1way only is that it strts its trade on the sme route.Surely Oil price in pak will decrease as many countries would offer. oil to.pak to benefit frm CPEC–especially middle east!!

  • Dear brother Osama Iqbal has represented an overview on CEPEC, encompassing its importance for China and Pakistan both. But one thing got unnoticed in your research is it’s disadvantages to under developed Pakistani industry. CEPEC will address the issue of energy and infrastructure but at the same time will risks Pakistani industry which cannot compete Chinese cheap products.
    So if Pakistani govt is really serious then they should spend a share of budget to ensure cheap products on major scale so that benefits of CEPEC be maximized in Pakistan’s favour.

  • r we not allowing the big influx of chinese into pakistan…do we have the guaranttee that such vast number of chinese working on cpec wont do anything else than concentrating metely on cpec…i have all my worries and doubts….

  • I agree to some extant with the writer but one thing must be kept in mind that money is not everything, one must analyse the benifit nd cost of the agreemnent. . . The writer has not discussed our control over the project. .can he please discuss how chinese looted the Seendak in Balochistan by offering only a peanut in return. .. .further, how CPEC will benifot Pakistan in general nd Balochistan in particular when u ve changed Balochistan to cantoment nd giving it the status of NO GO AREA.

  • The writer has mentioned a few myths. But did not enlighten us with his opinion over such myths.

    And I believe that even if China benefits more out of this CPEC than Pakistan, we should not feel any qualms about it…afterall we are getting so much in the end that we alone would never do by ourselves.

  • well said cpec is more important for Chinese future growth as for Pakistan. I hope Pakistan will take advantage of this. unfortunately we always messed up.

  • Well i think this CEPC has more positive aspects than negative in its nature….positive is that a strong passages for development wll b available for all Pakistanis. ….the negative is tht our local business community hve to raise its level to international standards to compete with Chinese market…

  • My question is, how about local manufacturers in Pakistan? They are currently struggling to compete with Chinese products coming from China.
    I think CPEC will force local manufacturers to shut their plants and start trading business of Chinese products.
    And employees of those companies can work on road construction and on toll plazas on CPEC.
    Can any expert on “CPEC being game changer for Pakistan” comments on jobs in local industry??

  • The highly optimistic but materialistic and naive opinions of the author do not consider the adverse impact which CPEC will have on the rights of workers in Pakistan, unequal division of benefit (west part of Pakistan not benefiting) and the degradation of the environment. It is much more expected from a lums grad with a degree in pol sci and history.

  • Very comprehensive analysis.China will secure a secure supply of oil imports from the middle east via Gawadar Port once its fully operational with in less than 2 years expected.And we just need to stabilise ourselves at political,social and economic front.It really is a game changer for Pakistan

  • Its always good to have indepth understanding of relationship between two countries.china interests are pakistan interest as the two countries have one thing in common i-e good will towards each other even on peoples level the general conception is that china is pakistan time tested friend in good and bad times people in pakistan feel that they need to improve a lot facing the challenges especially pakistan region the only way is strengthen each other chinese wise nation pakistan has a lot to learn from china (dr shahid khan afridi peshawar pakistan)



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