Muhammad Zamir Assadi
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative, has emerged as a success story in the global arena within its initial ten years of construction since its launch in 2013. The project is a product of collaboration between Pakistan and China under the visionary leadership of both sides.
On the 10th anniversary of this mega initiative, CPEC has emerged as a growth axis and a development belt featuring complementary advantages, collaboration, mutual benefits, and common prosperity.
With the comprehensive transportation corridor and industrial cooperation between China and Pakistan as the main axis, and with concrete economic and trade cooperation, as well as people-to-people exchange and cultural communication as the engine, CPEC has developed a strong base on major collaborative projects for infrastructure construction, industrial development, and livelihood improvement, aimed at socioeconomic development, prosperity, and security in regions along it.
In this stage of development, Pakistan has proceeded with an all-weather strategic partnership of cooperation, embracing concepts of harmony, inclusiveness, mutual benefits, and sustainability with China.
In addition to seizing opportunities presented by China’s economic development, transformation, and upgrade, as well as participating in the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, the country has capitalized on the favorable environment created by extensive consensus on Vision 2025, growing economic and social stability, and a new round of robust growth in Pakistan.
China has fully leveraged its industrial, capital, and institutional advantages in light of Pakistan’s market, demographic dividend, and geographical imperatives.
Through mutual consultations, China and Pakistan have shared responsibilities and fruits, forming a “1+4” collaboration pattern, with the CPEC at the center and four priorities: the Gwadar port, energy, transport infrastructure, and industrial cooperation.
The incredible success story of CPEC has brought China and Pakistan closer, creating a physical and economic bond through this mega initiative to form a community of an indivisible common destiny.
In this development period, the Chinese and Pakistani governments are the advocates, planners, and guides of the CPEC project. Considering the Chinese and Pakistani economic systems, commercial projects related to the CPEC have been operated in a market-oriented way; quasi-commercial major infrastructure projects have adopted the public-private partnership mode, and non-commercial projects concerning people’s livelihood have involved multiple participants and have been implemented through fair competition.
In meaningful and collaborative consultations, China and Pakistan jointly devised plans to allocate financing responsibilities according to the project’s situation and their respective investment and financing strengths. They aimed to leverage their comparative advantages in project construction and implementation and to share the outcomes based on the alignment of costs, risks, and returns.
Over the years, China and Pakistan have significantly enhanced information connectivity and fostered practical cooperation by constructing and operating local communication networks and broadcast and TV networks. This effort is complemented by strengthening information and communication industries in both countries and simultaneously constructing information, road, and railway infrastructure.
China and Pakistan have strengthened cooperation in oil and gas, electricity, and power grids, promoting the construction of major projects in thermal power, hydropower, coal gasification, and renewable power generation. They also aim to support power transmission networks to enhance power transmission and supply reliability.
This collaboration under CPEC has promoted cooperation in developing oil and gas resources and research on the integrated vision and demand of China and Pakistan’s oil and gas cooperation, aiming to improve collaboration between the two countries and diversify oil supplies.
It has optimized the sourcing and use of coal, conducted research on developing and utilizing Pakistan’s coal for power plants, and developed technologies for surface coal gasification.
Additionally, there has been an expansion and augmentation of the coal mining sector. The initiative has actively promoted river planning and undertaken preparatory work for major projects to accelerate the hydropower development process.
During this time, significant progress has been made in developing wind and solar energy based on local conditions. The initiative has established diversified energy supply channels while strengthening the construction of high-voltage power grids and transmission and distribution networks. These efforts aim to fulfill electricity demand and ensure the reliability of electricity supply in Pakistan.
Furthermore, the cooperation has led to the development of the industry for manufacturing energy sector equipment required for generation, transmission, and distribution, including renewable energy technologies.
In this period, China and Pakistan have strengthened cooperation in trade and industrial areas, expanding bilateral economic and trade relations. The partnership has enhanced the level of bilateral trade liberalization.
CPEC has expanded cooperation, transforming Pakistan’s industries from assembling imported parts and components to localized parts production. It has encouraged various Chinese enterprises to enter the Pakistani market, thereby improving the development of energy-efficient industries in Pakistan.
We have also observed that it has promoted industrial capacity cooperation in sectors such as chemical & pharmaceuticals, engineering goods, agro, iron & steel, light manufacturing & home appliances, and construction materials.
It utilizes efficient, energy-saving, and environmentally friendly processes and equipment to meet the demands of Pakistan’s local markets while simultaneously expanding to the international market.
CPEC invested over 26 billion USD, creating 250,000 jobs, developing Gwadar port, adding 8,000 MW to the grid, and building 510 km of highways, 932 km of roads, an 820-km fiber line, and an HVDC transmission line with a 4,000 MW capacity. It transformed Pakistan’s socio-economic landscape, with more to come in the next phase and decade.
*The author is a media fellow of China International Press and Communication Centre.
**The opinions in this article are the author’s own and may not represent the views of The Diplomatic Insight. The organization does not endorse or assume responsibility for the content.