In these turbulent times, Pakistan’s relationship with China provides an essential anchor for its security and foreign policy and the foundation for its socioeconomic development. China meets Pakistan’s defence requirements; it is building Pakistan’s infrastructure; it is a bulwark against aggression by India and bullying by the US.
The BRI is vital not so much for China as for the developing countries. The World Bank has estimated that developing countries need an investment of over $100 billion in infrastructure annually. The US and the West are unwilling or unable to finance this; China is doing so. Western opposition to BRI is essentially a ‘dog-in-the-manger’ approach. Criticism of BRI as ‘debt diplomacy’ is a misplaced extrapolation of the West’s century-old strategy to ‘capture’ the resources and compromise the leaders of poorer nations. Chinese lending for government projects is provided on extremely soft terms.
All the projects under CPEC were selected by successive Pakistani governments. The Gwadar port, road and rail links, oil and gas pipelines, were identified during the Musharraf government. The power projects were added by the PML-N government. Most of these projects will help advance Pakistan’s industrialisation and economic expansion.
As already agreed, CPEC’s scope will be broadened in future. The Special Economic Zones can provide the avenue for rapid industrialisation and export expansion. CPEC can also incorporate ‘social infrastructure’: education institutions, healthcare facilities, garbage and sewage treatment plants, public amenities, housing projects, environmental protection projects.
The anticipated strengthening of the strategic partnership is not designed as an alliance against any third country (unlike the US-India relationship explicitly meant to ‘contain’ China). But the reinforced Pakistan-China partnership will enable both countries to more confidently confront the multiple challenges they face in an increasingly turbulent world. The Chinese pictogram for ‘challenge’ also means ‘opportunity’. It is thus that Chairman Mao declared: “There is great disorder under the heavens; the situation is excellent!
Extract from article by Munir Akram: https://www.dawn.com/news/1441863/the-china-agenda
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