( May 18, 2017, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) Many observers in the world are surprised that Government of Pakistan has taken the calculated risk to allow China to have an overwhelming participation in building the infrastructure projects in Pakistan by way of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor plans. The huge project envisages billions of dollars of investment and the investment amount would be provided to Pakistan by China as loan that would bear interest.
Pakistan has to repay the loan over the years. What would be China’s action if Pakistan would fail to do so? Obviously, in such scenario, Pakistan runs the risk of becoming a Tibet for China.
Unconcealed territorial ambitions of China:
China has not concealed it’s ambition to become the most powerful country in the world.
With this objective, China has been trying to expand it’s territory and it succeeded to some extent when it forcibly occupied Tibet claiming that Tibet was part of China. The world appears to have decided to simply accept China’s claims on Tibet without caring for the plight of the Tibetans who have lost the freedom. In this case, China has the last laugh.
China is already occupying part of Indian territory that it seized after 1962 war claiming that the territory belongs to it. Now, it is claiming that Arunachal Pradesh province in India should be part of China.
China has serious disputes with neighbouring countries like the Philippines over south China sea and also has bitter dispute with Japan over Senkaku islands. It also has disputes with other countries like Vietnam and South Korea.
There have been protests from the neighbours about the territorial claims of China but China does not seem to care.
In such circumstances, it is surprising that the Government of Pakistan is not seeing the writing on the wall.
CPEC projects give dominant role for China in Pakistan:
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is bringing China alarmingly closer to Pakistan that will make Pakistan helplessly dependent on China in the coming years.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor plan ( CPEC) envisages a deep and broad-based penetration of many sectors of industry, infrastructure, agriculture and economy of Pakistan.Modern transportation networks built under CPEC will link seaports in Gwadar and Karachi with northern Pakistan, as well as points further north in western China and Central Asia.
A 1,100-kilometre long motorway will be built between the cities of Karachi and Lahore as part of CPEC, while the Karakoram Highway between Rawalpindi and the Chinese border will be completely reconstructed and overhauled.
The Karachi–Peshawar main railway line will also be upgraded to allow for train travel at up to 160 km per hour by December 2019. Pakistan’s railway network will also be extended to eventually connect to China’s Southern Xinjiang Railway in Kashgar. CPEC will provide connectivity from Xinjiang in China to the Arabian sea at Gwadar in Balochistan.
The estimated $11 billion required to modernise transportation networks will be financed by subsidised concessionary loan from China to Pakistan.It is also reported that CPEC envisages thousands of acres of agricultural land in Pakistan being leased to Chinese enterprises to set up demonstration projects and fibre optic system that will facilitate the dissemination of Chinese culture. Further, thousands of acres of land will be leased to China for projects ranging from seed varieties to irrigation technology. There are also other projects such as mines that have not escaped China’s attention.
What logic for Pakistan?:
Pakistan government is defending it’s decision to provide China huge dominance, in Pakistan by stating that CPEC would spur the economy and would bring benefits to citizens. While this argument would be correct by the face value, the implications of excessive dependence on another large, powerful, ambitious neighbouring country for sustaining Pakistan’s economy can end up with Pakistan becoming an economic colony of China in the immediate future and later on facing the threat of losing its sovereignty.
It is surprising that while the observers all over the world can clearly visualise such possibility, Pakistan leadership remains blind or gives an appearance of remaining blind to the grave and adverse possibilities.
It is equally surprising that the protests against the CPEC projects in Pakistan by concerned citizens of Pakistan are only mute. Perhaps, citizens of Pakistan hope that implementation of such massive projects is the only way to make Pakistan’s economy leap forward and cooperation with China appears to be the only way of doing it.
Obviously, citizens of Pakistan are reconciling to the project knowing well that it is a calculated risk and hoping against hope that Pakistan will not suffer the fate of Tibet due to it’s extreme proximity to the ambitious China.