1) Commencement of CPEC
This plan was also envisioned by Pervaiz Musharaf in 2004 and he proposed a silk route to China which was reported by the Wall Street Journal. In 2014, Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain visited China and presidents of both countries discuss economic cooperation plans. Two months later, PM Nawaz Sharif visited China and signed 42 MoUs which included projects of around $45.6 billion. This marked the start of CPEC. In April 2015, Chinese Premier visited Pakistan. He signed the starting of CPEC with the kick-start of the western route.
2) Details of the project
The CPEC is a $46 billion project of a 3,000-km extensive network of massive projects. It consists of roads, railways, pipelines, special economic zones and other infrastructure projects across Pakistan. It will link Kashgar in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and southwest Pakistan’s Gwadar Port in its Baluchistan Province.
CPEC would shorten the current route from China to the Persian Gulf by more than 10,000 kilometers and instead of 45 days; it would take China ten days to get its imports and exports. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would also help in avoiding any potentially contested Strait of Malacca in Southeast Asia (near Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, and India), and eventually lowering shipping costs. It is providing China an access to the Arabian Sea just about 600 kilometers from the narrow Strait of Hormuz to the west through which passes about 35% of the world’s oil shipments.
3) Current Status
$46 billion is now $51 billion after approving more $6 billion. To add, 1320 MW Sahiwal Coal Power Project and Pakistan Port Qasim Power Project are under construction. Furthermore, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated Green Line bus project in Karachi on February 26, 2016. The under-construction Lahore Orange Line Train is Pakistan’s first inter-city mass rapid transit train system and is one of the several projects of China-Pakistan Economic corridor (CPEC). But, Orange Line Train is facing criticism. As it leads to the destruction of national heritage. Moreover, Motorway is also being constructed.
4) How is CPEC a Game Changer?
CPEC is a multi-billion project which will prove to be a game-changer not only for China and Pakistan but for the entire region. CPEC possesses the capability of changing game in term of economy, strategic position, development and infrastructure built up for China, Pakistan, and the entire region. Because it will not only provide China shorter route to energy-rich countries but an alternate route if things deteriorate in the Indian ocean and South China sea. When it comes to Pakistan, it will not only overcome energy issues but also bolster its economy through the creation of different economic zone. If one turn its arrow towards Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and India, they will get an access to the Chinese market and vice versa.