The People’s Republic of China, ensuing the “leap forward” economic initiative, has stood second robust economy in the world and covered up numerous enabling economic partnerships with various nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This leap forward economic initiative has directed China to the formulation of a durable economy which was backed by another initiative coined as “constructive engagement” with its equals. China has won the confidence of many governments starting from Southern Asia through Africa to Latin America through the motto of constructive engagement, showing a relaxed foreign exchange control, fewer investment restrictions to create a suitable condition for privately owned Chinese firms to join in the international investment.
China continues to appear as a major regional and global power and has embarked upon numerous economic and political initiatives worldwide. CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) is the further desire of China to a shorter and cost-effective route to Middle East Asia, Central Asia, Africa and the rest of the world which will eventually promote peoples’ quality of life and foster a pragmatic economic and trade cooperation. The idea of CPEC is originated in the transport corridor which is the Channel or route that links one economic center to another either within a nation or among the multiple nations. When Transport Corridors are prolonged to a region, markets of the entire region can see the advantage of enlarged multidimensional investment and trade. A permanent effective transport linkage in a region needs excellent infrastructure and large energy resources to the development of an economic corridor with a better concentration on improved infrastructure. The CPEC is the transportation corridor through which China and Pakistan seek to augment economic connections with a plethora of developments and their expected multiplied impacts.
CPEC is a wide-ranging set of supportive projects and initiatives, which covers main areas including connectivity, energy cooperation, tourism, poverty alleviation, information network infrastructure, industrial parks and industries, agricultural development, livelihood improvement including municipal infrastructure as well as financial cooperation, public health, education, and people-to-people contacts by linking Kashgar with Gwadar through Gilgit-Baltistan and the other areas of Pakistan.
The vision of current leadership of Pakistan is placed on economic security; changing its priority from geo-strategic to geo-economics. New vision is concentrated to utilize optimally Pakistan’s geo-economic location and is centered on economic security through the domain of connectivity. Pakistan offers a gateway / shortest route to international seas to land locked central Asian Republics, Afghanistan and China. CPEC will be utilized as the epicenter of regional connectivity.
Pakistan is deeply considering East-West connectivity between Middle East and South Asia keeping India within. It offers economic bases and investment hubs to the world since its future lies in economic success. So, the new tools for the development are economic, science, public and digital diplomacy. To realize peace within and beyond borders, Pakistan is striving for connectivity devoting its hard-earned gains against terrorism; and instead of aid, transformed Pakistan is looking for genuine and mutually beneficial economic partnership. It is vowing the world for regional peace and development seeking partnership as a development strategy and easing of pressure by international community.
SAARC – Can it benefit from CPEC?
New dynamics of competition among countries are emerging in the expedition for promoting regional connectivity. Numerous economic corridor projects are being proceeded by many countries in South Asia to advance their respective interests. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor promoted by Pakistan and China to augment connectivity and regional integration is the North-South trade and transit corridor. Regional countries in reaction are advancing separate connectivity projects. South Asia being energy efficient region can obtain benefits from the CPEC by using Central Asia’s huge gas and oil resources. The economic corridor will connect China to the world and will have a significant impact on regional economies since its objective is bringing prosperity in the region. South Asia needs to connect with CPEC to obtain benefits of the project, which is spanned largely on attracting investment and economic opportunities.
The presence of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation), having benefits from CPEC, will step on the wheel of regional integration. Connecting SAARC with CPEC’s development projects will boost Regionalism, and with a pragmatic way forward, loopholes can be turned into opportunities. SAARC with the history of previous accomplishments has the capacity to bring all SAARC members on the same platform for regional growth. SAARC-CPEC cooperation will also diminish the severity of bilateral issues among regional states. China has already secured the status of observer in SAARC; its permanent inclusion in SAARC can augment regional economic integration and inter-regional connectivity.
Asadur Rahman, PhD, International Islamic University Malaysia. Currently working as a Research Fellow at the Muslim World Research Center (MWRC) Malaysia, and can be reached at: email@example.com