Question: The CPEC continues to be a major roadblock in renewing India’s ties with China. Comment.
Answer: China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a series of infrastructural projects that aims at reviving China’s participation in South Asia.
CPEC is considered by Pakistan as the most ambitious project ever taken by the country in its history as the effects of project are said to be profound.
Objectives of CPEC
- Development of infrastructure of Pakistan by modernising transportation sector through development of roadways and railways that connects major cities.
- The CPEC will create industrial corridors that will provide employment to large number of Pakistani and Chinese citizens.
Benefits for China
- Faster connectivity to Indian Ocean through use of Gwadar port near the Persian gulf. This will allow China to ensure its energy security.
- The Gwadar port will likely to act as a strategic asset that can be used as a military base to launch offensive against enemies.
- The raw materials for the project will be procured from Chinese companies. This is expected to keep its GDP output high by creating continuous demand. Its iron and steel industries along with cement and coal will experience growth.
- It will allow China to check India’s influence in Indian Ocean and strengthen its position as a challenger for global leadership.
- The construction of transportation corridor from China will remove dependency on Malacca strait for free navigation and strengthen its blue water policy.
Issues for India
The corridor passes through Gilgit Baltistan area, which India considers a part of its territory. The construction of such an unauthorised corridor is a violation of its territorial sovereignty. It also signals interference of third party in the dispute.
- String of pearls
The string of pearls is a term used to describe the construction of overseas naval bases by China surrounding India’s territory. The Gwadar port is a part of string of pearls and India has every right to object such a move.
- Regional influence
The Indian Ocean region is a traditional area of India’s influence. The interference of China is considered as a clear threat to its dominance. India is reluctant to cede China any space in its stronghold.
Thus, the onus of proof lies on China to indicate its good intention. Without clarification, India will continue to look China as a threat to its integrity. In such a situation, ties is expected to further deteriorate.