China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the major initiative of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) launched in 2013. With the resurgence of China as a global economic powerhouse, trade across the Indian Ocean is set to increase significantly in the coming decades, particularly through CPEC. China is constantly working to operationalize the BRI, which seeks regional and global interconnection through land and sea. The Indian Ocean has surfaced as a center for regional trade, with around 90,000 vessels in the world’s commercial fleet transporting 9.84 billion tons of cargo across the ocean, plus 40 percent of the world’s oil supply also passing through the same waters. With 19.9pc of global trade volume passing through the Indian Ocean, total trade passing through the ocean amounts to 70pc of world trade value.
Meanwhile, the argument made by Indian naval chief Admiral Karambir Singh in January 2020 that CPEC is upholding the sovereignty of India is a complete fabrication. The Admiral parroted the Indian position that as CPEC crosses through Gilgit-Baltistan. The area of Gilgit-Baltistan which was partially aligned with Kashmir at the time of the Partition passes through the territory of the disputed area in which India claimed its sovereignty. Earlier, in July 2018, S Jaishankar, Indian Foreign Secretary, told Chinese officials in Beijing that the CPEC purportedly breached Indian sovereign rights because it ran through Azad Kashmir. China has dismissed India’s stance and rebutted the allegations blatantly. New Delhi and the government of India also fears that, as soon as CPEC becomes operational, its influence in Central Asia and Afghanistan will erode along with occupied Kashmir.
The Indians are going straight back to condemn the CPEC and are cripple Pakistan’s economic growth. Their investment in Chahbahar in Iran was a step to take, but the port has not taken off but rather China has invested $400 Billion and, in the near future, there is no promise to invest in India. According to published estimates, the CPEC project amounts to US$ 54 billion in economic corridors, including 11 billion in investment in rail and road projects and 33 billion in power generation and energy projects. India is also alarmed that Pakistan is emerging as an outsourcing destination. India is trying every way to lessen Pakistan-China friendship through blacklisting Pakistan in FATF and other international institutions. This will happen as new industrial cities emerge along the corridor where skilled workers will be concentrated, allowing the country to emerge as a hub of contract-manufacturing-outsourcing. Indians say that Indian exports to textiles and other sectors could be affected.
India has been severely backlashed in the world but even in the region due to China’s vast horizon of mass investments and the Asian Development Bank (ADP). China has an usher hold of the Indian Ocean and controls the trade in the region and is aiming at improving it significantly. India is at a weak spot as the emerging Pakistan economy due to the surging CPEC is a bitter knot for India.