NEW DELHI: The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passing through PoK violating India’s sovereignty has changed equation in the subcontinent, increasing Beijing’s stakes in Pakistan more than ever before and compelling the Chinese leadership to overlook Islamabad’s use of terror as state policy.
An all-weather ally and Iron Brother – China’s strategic ties with Pakistan are getting stronger by the day and shaping Beijing’s decision’s to shield Pak action at the cost of lucrative Indian economy and co-member in BRICS, RIC and SCO.
China is obligated under the charter of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation as well as under BRICS & RIC to condemn and oppose terrorism. Just a day after the Indian Air Force strikes in Balakot, China even committed at RIC of cracking down against breeding grounds of terror. But by shielding Pakistan at the UN, it is clear for Beijing such obligations is just rhetoric.
The neutral Chinese position after the Pulwama attacks had raised hopes across world capitals that Beijing may finally alter its position amid the changing geo-politics. However, China’s geo-political goals served through $64 billion CPEC, the crown jewel of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), makes Pakistan dear to the policy planners in Beijing, according to officials who have followed China for decades. CPEC gives China much needed access to Western Indian Ocean, Gulf and Africa in the shortest possible time.
CPEC received a strong boost ahead of March 13 deadline to ban Masood Azhar as a global terrorist; the two sides expedited the implementation of the projects being executed under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in the field of socio-economic development.
Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing held a meeting with Pakistan’s secretary, planning, Zafar Hasan in Islamabad this week and agreed to promote early implementation of Gwadar projects, including a vocational institute, hospital, new Gwadar Airport and a City Master Plan.
In fact President Xi Jinping’s resolve to safeguard CPEC is stronger than before in the backdrop of a rare criticism of the BRI at a recent party meeting, an official noted. While dissent and disagreements are a rarity in China, murmurs of criticism that too against Xi’s BRI, which reportedly carries over $ trillion investment budget, surfaced during the discussions at the two sessions of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People’s Conference (NPC).
The BRI, a signature strategy of Xi that aims to expand China’s economic influence throughout Asia and beyond, has been enshrined in the Constitution of the Communist Party since 2017. But it suffered setbacks in 2018 across continents and therefore Pakistan remains a key to success of the grand design. The main criticism stems from China doling out huge loans spanning to billions of US dollars to small countries for infrastructure development over and beyond their capacity to pay back.