The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship of China’s imperialistic and expansionist agenda under its Belt and Road Initiative, is set to become a “trillion-dollar blunder” project, say experts.
According to a leading Israeli English daily, the CPEC, a collection of infrastructure projects currently under construction throughout Pakistan, was originally valued at $46 billion but is now estimated to be $87 billion and only a quarter of which have been completed.
The CPEC was intended to modernize Pakistani infrastructure and strengthen its economy by the construction of modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects and special economic zones (SEZs). Plans originally called for a seaport, roads, railways, pipelines, dozens of factories and the largest airport in Pakistan. But, almost seven years after the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was established, there’s little evidence of that vision being realized.
In recent years, the CPEC has proved to be based on a false premise that a nation needs these massive economic projects to be prosperous. It is now apparent that no one is willing to pay for these projects in the end, as they will never make any money from it. The debt quotient of this corridor is about $80 billion, 90 per cent of which will be paid for by Pakistan in the form of national debt. Pakistan very well knows that it will not be able to pay China back and will slowly lose the sovereignty of its own land.
The CPEC has been facing a lot of criticisms like finances, trade imbalances, opposition from Baloch nationalists, concerns of residents near Gwadar Port and the resistance of local actors whom this rollout may directly impact.
In May, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani had written an article stating that Pakistan’s desire to maintain strategic relations with China has resulted in the construction of $62 billion worth of CPEC, which includes a set of infrastructure projects, being mired in insufficient transparency.
“China’s consistent strategic support, including help with Pakistan’s nuclear program, is often held out by Pakistan’s military establishment favourably in contrast with the more conditional Pakistani alliance with the United States. But it seems now that China is not in Pakistan to help its people but rather as a predatory economic actor”, he said.
On top of all that, a new legal issue has now started haunting China.
According to international law, China will not be able to build anything in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, as it is legitimately part of the Indian state. On the other hand, Aksai Chin, also a part of India, which was illegally occupied by Pakistan and gifted to China, is also an obstacle. China may not be able to build or pass through that area without India’s permission.
During the recent standoff along the “Line of Actual Control” in Eastern Ladakh, India had clearly stated that it will not accept any infiltration into its territory and has the capability to deal with infiltrators.
Hence, as the experts say, the CPEC will soon be known as the “trillion-dollar blunder” as here China sets the price, Pakistan gets the bill and ends up with substandard infrastructure it cannot service.