China Deceiving Pak

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 23 Aug 2017 12:23:30


Pakistan is realising now that CPEC project is not a big panacea it has been tom toming about. The project will basically benefit China with Pakistan getting only some crumbs thrown at it, that too at an exorbitant cost. Many analysts in Pakistan including media, have started raising concerns that at this rate Pakistan will become 34th province of China

PAKISTAN is slowly realising that China has quietly duped it in the name of providing security and economic prosperity through its China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, which basically is an offshoot of China’s ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) project.

Chinese plot fed to Pakistan, which Pakistan accepted hook line and sinker says Chinese funds will flow into Pakistan and help modernise Pakistan’s infrastructure, that in turn will usher in boom period for Pakistan’s domestic economy, part of which will derive from its ability to export more.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will connect Khasgar town of mineral rich restive Xinxiang province of China with Gwadar port of Pakistan, located on Arabian Sea, via rail and road routes passing through PoK and Balochistan province of Pakistan, a total distance of 3,000 km. From Gwadar port of Pakistan, China’s OBOR then takes maritime route to West Asia from where China gets 80 per cent of its energy needs. Similarly from PoK, a branch of OBOR takes off to oil rich Central Asian countries, Russia and Europe.

Now, let us revert to Acche Din which Pakistan has been boasting after the start of CPEC in 2015.Trade figures of first half of 2016 show that Chinese imports to Pakistan have registered a surge by 30 per cent. Most of this surge is CPEC oriented namely, power generating material, construction material, mining equipment and agricultural material. During this same period Pakistani exports to China have dropped by 8 per cent.

Islamabad is already blaming China for putting barriers to Pakistani exports. China has also put in place with Pakistan, free trade agreement that is highly tilted towards China. This puts into question Chinese motive of building this Corridor.

Pakistan is now realising that CPEC is not such a big panacea it has been tom toming about. This entire project basically benefits China with Pakistan getting some crumbs thrown at it with exorbitant costs. A lot of analysts in Pakistan including media, have started raising concerns that at this rate Pakistan will become 34th province of China. China is investing $56 billion in Pakistan of which $ 46 billion is directly for CPEC only. Eleven billion dollars of these $ 46 billion are coming from the Chinese governmental funds. These $11 billion will be invested in construction of roads and rail links in Pakistan, all the way up to Gwadar port in Balochistan.

In this also China will be paid back 80 per cent of the cost by Pakistan. The Chinese contribution is only 20 per cent. In the road and rail construction work, bulk of construction force will be of Chinese people. In other words despite paying back 80 per cent of the cost of construction, the jobs will go to Chinese and not to the Pakistanis during construction phase. Pakistan will provide security to the entire project for which Pakistani army will provide the wherewithal whose cost again Pakistan will bear.

Pakistani Army has already raised a division size force for this, all in all 15,000 officers and soldiers. So, it is a win win situation for China and not Pakistan.
The worst is the balance of $ 35 billion which are being invested by China for construction of power houses in Pakistan along this corridor.

This entire money is coming from Chinese private sector. For the electricity produced, Pakistani consumer will have to pay 27 per cent extra cost, which will go to the Chinese private sector for the money they have invested in Pakistan. This investment is a total business proposition and Chinese government does not come into it.

They have only facilitated this deal. What is even more funny is that all these power plants will be coal based. This coal will not be the local one which is available cheap but will come from China with less ash so that there is reduced environment pollution. In other words the cost of power generation will hit the sky.

China says that CPEC is not meant for any other country. This opening of land route from Gwadar Port in Pakistan to Khasgar in China is to facilitate cheaper movement of oil and other resources from Gulf region to China. Economists in Pakistan are quoting how China first built the Habbantota port of Sri Lanka with an investment of $ 1.5 billion and now since Sri Lanka could not payback the debt, Chinese have taken over the port for use on lease for 99 years. A section of Pakistani media and some knowledgeable economists are even saying that Pakistani ruling elite and Pakistani Army has sold Pakistan to China.

The ill-effects of CPEC are already being noticed in Pakistan. Four provinces of Pakistan are blaming each other and three of them collectively their largest province Punjab for taking away largest share of CPEC pie. The ruling civilian elite of Pakistan have barred all powerful Army from being member of the CPEC Supervisory Committee. So, the Army has ousted Nawaz Sharif in a soft judicial coup in Panama Papers corruption case. Now, Army chief Qumar Bajwa has promised China that CPEC will be completed successfully, come what may.

Truth is that once the CPEC project is complete, Pakistan will have no space to maneuver. It will be like a colony of China. Looks like Pakistani army, due to its anti-India stance, is leading Pakistan to China camp from where it will not be possible for Pakistan to wriggle out. It is also true that keeping in view Pakistani economy, it will not be possible for them to pay back $ 90 Billion in next 30- years. Insurgency in Balochistan, through which bulk of CPEC passes, is not going to die down. It is, therefore, important that the right thinking Pakistanis should give a cool thought to CPEC before it is too late.