The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship program under China’s optimistic Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is facing challenges in Pakistan. Due to some disagreements on some of the agenda items, the unexpected postponement of the critical 10th meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee of the CPEC (JCC) made China stop working on some dimensions of the CPEC.
Co-chaired by Pakistan’s Minister of Planning and Growth and Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC), the JCC is the highest decision-making body on CPEC projects. Squabbles between the two countries on the potential roadmap for industrial cooperation and also on the Industrial Parks and Special Economic Zones (SEZs) reserved under the CPEC are assumed to be the reasons for the postponement of the meeting of the JCC. Following are some of the reasons for China’s seizure:
- POLITICAL UNSTABLE: Beijing has tried to invest more than US$62 billion in infrastructure and energy projects in Pakistan through the CPEC. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has argued that these investments would bring political stability and economic resilience to Pakistan and help Beijing protect its domestic energy supplies. According to Chinese officials, the CPEC will create about 2.3 million jobs in Pakistan by 2030 and will provide an alternate route for exports and energy imports from West Asia to China, connecting China’s western provinces to main global sea lanes via Pakistan’s Gwadar port. However, political fragility, increased intervention by security services and the military establishment in civil administration matters, and even CPEC programs have led Beijing to reconsider the outcome of the CPEC.
- VIOLENCE AND INSURGENCY: Growing corruption, expectations of unrealized employment, rampant exploitation of resources, and increased Chinese presence have triggered an anti-state uprising among the people of Baluchistan, who have been forced to the margins of the economy. In addition, Pakistan has reverted to policies similar to those adopted by China against Uyghur communities in its Xinjiang province to suppress rebellion and extremism in Baluchistan. The Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA) has stepped up its demands for Baloch independence, blamed Beijing for exploitation, and made the province more volatile. It also accused China of being Pakistan’s “partner in crime.” Pakistan washed its hands of the deteriorating security situation in Baluchistan and instead accused New Delhi of sabotaging its economic relationship with China and accused India of the expected destabilization of Pakistan.