HomeOpinion10th anniversary of CPEC: Why is the project of great importance?

10th anniversary of CPEC: Why is the project of great importance?

The importance of the corridor to the economic and social growth of the region's nations, particularly Afghanistan, goes far beyond Pakistan and China.

Farhad Chowdhury

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif addresses a ceremony to celebrate the 10th anniversary of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in Islamabad, Pakistan, July 31, 2023./CFP

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter on the 10th anniversary of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on July 31. The importance of CPEC as a significant Belt and Road Initiative pilot project was stressed by President Xi.

This historic achievement was made at a time when nations all over the world are struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts, climate change, unemployment, and depleting resources. All eyes are focused on the project that not only advanced Pakistan but also strengthened its connections with its reliable neighbor.

China not only contributed nearly $25 billion to the multifaceted project, but it has also demonstrated its commitment to boosting the nation’s economy by offering further assistance through debt restructuring, emergency aid, and diplomatic support.

Overall, CPEC is a true example of regional connectivity with the goal of enhancing people’s lives through inclusive development and enabling mutual prosperity. Doing so will open up new markets, expand supply chains, eliminate bottlenecks for holistic development, guarantee energy security, and generate millions of jobs for residents of the region. Pakistan is working to strengthen the economic ties between the two countries going forward and is looking to Chinese foreign direct investment and industrial support as a path to stability.

Workers install billboards along a roadside, Islamabad, Pakistan, July 30, 2023. /CFP

Let’s begin with the triumphs. There is no disputing the fact that CPEC has a variety of advantages. Pakistan overcame many obstacles thanks to CPEC’s initial phase, which also provided possibilities for regular people.

First, CPEC contributed to the creation of nearly 200,000 direct jobs. All societal sectors are given a fair share of the jobs. Because CPEC has directly benefited over 100 small and medium enterprises, indirect jobs are considerably higher. In addition to helping Pakistan expand nationally and regionally, it has also looked into new opportunities for collaboration in areas including telecommunications, public welfare, and science and technology.

Gwadar opened up new channels for commerce and connectivity. It has the capacity to transform Pakistan into a connectivity hub. States in Central Asia have already expressed a strong interest in using the Gwadar Port. Additionally, Gwadar’s free economic zone is drawing investors. The Middle East’s commerce ports will be affected by the regional effects of CPEC since it could result in a decline in maritime volume.

The CPEC projects have significantly improved Pakistan’s regional significance. Along with China and Pakistan, the region’s states would gain from CPEC. Beijing and Islamabad are enticing the surrounding countries to contribute to CPEC. In reality, participation in CPEC by a neighboring state will improve its serviceability, favorably impact its national economy, and improve its socioeconomic conditions, promoting regional peace and stability.

The importance of the corridor to the economic and social growth of the region’s nations, particularly Afghanistan, goes far beyond Pakistan and China. Through Pakistan, CPEC also links China to the Middle East and Europe. The project’s implementation would bring about an economic revolution and alter the future of the neighboring nations.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng conducted a conference that resulted in new trade deals that will increase finance for Pakistan’s IT and agricultural sectors. Pakistan has maintained a strong partnership with China which recently renewed a $2 billion publicly guaranteed debt of Pakistan, providing a major relief to the Pakistan government.

Now, China has pledged its complete support for financial stability. Pakistan would need to demonstrate its commitment to structural change in addition to putting forth a compelling argument to win back the favor of its ironclad brother. Accelerating the CPEC projects immediately, which will aid in bringing stability to the economy through foreign direct investment and much-needed industrialization, would be considerably more advantageous for Pakistan.

Pakistan may ensure a workable solution to the debilitating effects of a demographic time bomb by cooperating with Chinese authorities. Particularly in Gwadar, where increased commercial activity can open up new prospects for the local populace, this would be extremely advantageous

Farhad Chowdhury, a special commentator for CGTN, is a security and strategic affairs researcher and columnist. The article reflects the author’s opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Source: CGTN

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Coverpage’s editorial stance


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