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China-Pakistan Economic Corridor


China has refused to further expand cooperation in the areas of energy, water management, and climate change under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

This refusal signals a strain in the ironclad friendship between the two all-weather allies.


GS-II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Points
  2. What is the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)?
  3. What is Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) One Belt One Road (OBOR)?
  4. India’s perspective of the CPEC
  5. Steps taken by India to Counter the BRI/OBOR

Key Points:

  • Beijing has declined multiple investment proposals from Islamabad.
  • These proposals were related to direct investments in various sectors under the CPEC, such as energy, tourism, water management, and climate change.
  • Evidence of this rejection can be found in the official minutes of the 11th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting for the CPEC.
  • The JCC plays a crucial role as the strategic decision-making body for the CPEC.
  • China’s reluctance to expand cooperation in these sectors underscores the challenges faced by both China and Pakistan in deepening their economic relations through the CPEC.

What is the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)?

  • China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a collection of infrastructure projects that are under construction throughout Pakistan since 2013.
  • CPEC is intended to rapidly upgrade Pakistan’s required infrastructure and strengthen its economy by the construction of modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects, and special economic zones.
  • On 13 November 2016, CPEC became partly operational when Chinese cargo was transported overland to Gwadar Port for onward maritime shipment to Africa and West Asia.
  • A vast network of highways and railways are to be built under the aegis of CPEC that will span the length and breadth of Pakistan.
  • CPEC passes through the disputed region of Kashmir where Indian and Pakistani border guards have occasionally exchanged fire across the Line of Control. The Government of India, which shares tense relations with Pakistan, objects to the CPEC project as upgrade works to the Karakoram Highway are taking place in Gilgit Baltistan; territory that India claims as its own.

What is Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) One Belt One Road (OBOR)?

  • One Belt One Road (OBOR), also called the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping, is an ambitious economic development and commercial project that focuses on improving connectivity and cooperation among multiple countries spread across the continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe spanning about 78 countries.
  • Initially announced in the year 2013 with the purpose of restoring the ancient Silk Route that connected Asia and Europe.
  • The project involves building a big network of roadways, railways, maritime ports, power grids, oil and gas pipelines, and associated infrastructure projects.
  • The project covers two parts. The first is called the “Silk Road Economic Belt,” which is primarily land-based and is expected to connect China with Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Western Europe.
  • The second is called the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” which is sea-based and is expected to will China’s southern coast to the Mediterranean, Africa, South-East Asia, and Central Asia.
  • Landlocked Nepal has recently joined OBOR by signing a deal that will help it improve cross-border connectivity with China, and Pakistan is set to benefit from the $46 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that will connect southwestern China to and through Pakistan, allowing access to Arabian Sea routes.

India’s perspective of the CPEC

  • India has opposed CPEC since inception in view of its opaque nature and uneven balance towards Beijing.
  • As the corridor passes through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), India has flagged its objection about Chinese project “that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity”. The strategic location of port of Gwadar could be used against Indian SLOCs, threatening hydrocarbon supply through the Strait of Homruz.
  • With Chinese control over transport routes in Pakistan and growing Chinese relations with Iran, India’s access to Afghanistan and Central Asia may be restricted.
  • As Chinese economic influence increases in South Asian countries, the balance may tilt towards Beijing, with even a futuristic containment policy towards India.
  • Further as CPEC integrates Pakistan and China economically, politically and militarily, any future conflict for India could be on two fronts.

Steps taken by India to Counter the BRI/OBOR

  • India has taken its own steps to provide practical alternatives to BRI which are economically viable and strategically balance Chinese spreading sphere of influence.
  • India has rightly transformed its ‘Look East’ policy to ‘Act East’ policy. Strong relations with Vietnam, pursuance of Trilateral Highway project, proposed Mekong-Ganga Economic Corridor, strengthening BIMSTEC and developing maritime relations with Indonesia and Singapore are steps in this ambit.
  • Further with ‘Go West’ strategy, India is pursuing to be a partner in International North South Transport Corridor, ensuring access to Central Asia.
  • India’s interest in development of strategic Chabahar port in Iran is viewed as a counter to Gwadar. Additionally, India and Japan are also collectively working on ‘Asia Africa Growth Corridor’ (AAGC).
  • On the strategic front, India has donned the role of a ‘Net Security Provider’ in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
  • The Indian Navy, transforming its operational philosophy to ‘mission-based deployment’ is playing a key role in ‘securing the seas’.
  • Through the conduct of joint naval exercises such as Malabar, Varuna, MILAN, coordinated patrol with neighbouring regional navies; participation in RIMPAC (Rim of Pacific Exercise), KOMODO multinational exercises; goodwill visits to foreign ports and HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) – the Indian Navy has built strong partnerships with strategic partners.
  • Further, through strong security relations with the IOR countries such as Seychelles, Mauritius and Oman and leading role in promoting collective security forums like Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), India has gained a leading and respectful position in the IOR.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023