China’s CPEC Is More A Burden, Less A Boon
Ironically, the CPEC is more a burden and less a boon. Practically everything about CPEC and BRI (Belt & Road Initiative) is opaque, meant to further Chinese interests – strategic, political and economic. CPEC has been gift-wrapped in Christmas colours as the crown jewel of the BRI, meant to qualitatively upgrade the infrastructure of Pakistan, generate employment, and an additional 2 percent GDP growth.
CPEC is supposed to entail investments worth USD 40 to 62 billion, depending on who is doing the speaking. The blueprint includes – upgrade of Gwadar seaport and town (new airport, SEZ (Special Economic Zone), hospitals), energy projects (thermal, hydel and renewable), improved highways, railways and aviation connectivity and industrial parks.
If it materialises and that is a big IF, it will solve the Chinese ‘Malacca headache’ – a narrow sea lane of the Malacca Straits – through which a bulk of its energy needs traverse. In the event of a conflict, the adversary will be tempted to blockade the channel to choke off Chinese supplies.