Implications of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
Written by Jarom Drummond
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a massive economic investment from China into the infrastructure of Pakistan. While China has hopes for fiscal gain from the endeavor, it could also prove economically and politically crucial for Pakistan. The added economic stability could be the strength that Pakistan needs to begin tackling the host of problems that plague their country. The project could also very well shape their future foreign policies, along with altering U.S.- Pakistani relations.
A small portion of China’s $62 billion investment in Pakistan is going to educational and medical support in the Balochistan region of Pakistan, an area long fraught with illiteracy, poor gender equality, and political instability (Nadeem). Higher education levels are known to increase economic growth but decrease rates of regional terrorism (Dryden-Peterson). If China’s investments in economic engines and infrastructure are to prove effective they need to be safe from terrorist attacks such as those that are currently inhibiting progress in Balochistan (Rafiq).
Pakistan is now being given the potential for rapid increasing economic influence in South Asia, and its rising power should capture the U.S.’ attention. Its increased stability could mean a number of things for the U.S. including a decreased need for federal aid, a greater opportunity for diplomatic relations, foreign investment opportunities, and perhaps even a need to view Pakistan as a more viable threat to national security with its increasing relationship and dependence on China. The United States has nearly entirely stayed out of the developments of CPEC and the Belt and Road initiative (Luft), though doing so will almost certainly mean that the U.S. will have little to no say in the development of the future of Pakistan. The newly connected countries could form economic and political alliances, engage in arms trade, and form fossil fuel dependencies on each other and the U.S. will have little or no control over how it happens or what the effects are. Certainly, if America is to remain relevant in the region it needs to insert itself into the project in some way or another.
The role of China in this ordeal could likewise prove problematic for the United States. It seems eerily similar to how Britain used the Middle East (then Ottoman Empire) prior to WWI when it invested money into infrastructure for the sole purpose of protecting economic interest and control in the region. China’s interactions with Pakistan through CPEC, along with many other countries, will cause those countries to become dependent on China for economic assistance, as well as indebted to China for its large investment in them. China is building an economic empire of sorts, and also potentially creating a massive network of allies for itself which the United States will need to be aware of should Chinese/American relations take a turn south.
economic growth on the horizon, Pakistan could potentially tackle problems of
poverty, illiteracy, terrorism, and deteriorating infrastructure that have
plagued the country for decades. Its development means a new era of diplomacy
for the U.S. and Pakistan as it could potentially become an economic and trade
powerhouse in South Asia and link China with the Middle East. CPEC gives
Pakistan the potential to spring forward into a modern era of trade, economics,
and political relations.
Dryden-Peterson, Sarah, et al. “Education: A Challenge to Terror.” Brookings.edu, The Brookings Institution, 28 July 2016, www.brookings.edu/opinions/education-a-challenge-to-terror/.
Luft, Gal. “China’s Infrastructure Play.” Foreign Affairs. September 06, 2016. Accessed February 23, 2019. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/asia/china-s-infrastructure-play.
Nadeem, Fajar. “Illiteracy in Balochistan.” Voice of Balochistan, Voice of Balochistan, 1 Mar. 2018, voiceofbalochistan.pk/opinions-and-articles/social-development/illiteracy-in-balochistan/.
Rafiq, Arif. “China’s $62 Billion Bet on Pakistan.” Foreign Affairs. October 24, 2017. Accessed February 23, 2019. https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2017-10-24/chinas-62-billion-bet-pakistan.