What is the CPEC project?
- China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) refers to a clutch of major infrastructure works currently under way in Pakistan, intended to link Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang province to Gwadar deep sea port close to Pakistan’s border with Iran.
- Several other road, rail and power projects are associated with the corridor, and the project seeks to expand and upgrade infrastructure across the length and breadth of Pakistan, and to widen and deepen economic ties with China.
- The CPEC was launched in 2015 when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Pakistan and it now envisages investment of over USD 60 billion in different projects of development in Pakistan.
- The goal of CPEC is both to transform Pakistan’s economy—by modernizing its road, rail, air, and energy transportation systems—and to connect the deep-sea Pakistani ports of Gwadar and Karachi to China’s Xinjiang province and beyond by overland routes.
- This would reduce the time and cost of transporting goods and energy such as natural gas to China by circumventing the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea.
- The CPEC project is also strategically important for China. Currently, eighty percent of China’s oil has to pass through the Strait of Malacca, a narrow stretch of water between the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula. In the event of a conflict, the Malacca Strait could easily be blocked by a rival nation, cutting off China from crucial energy resources. CPEC allows China to circumvent the Strait of Malacca and reduce its dependency on the strait.
- CPEC is part of the larger Belt and Road Initiative—to improve connectivity, trade, communication, and cooperation between the countries of Eurasia—announced by China in 2013.
India’s position on CPEC
- India has been opposing the project as it passes through Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), which New Delhi considers its own territory.
- India claims that the CPEC project encroaches on sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.
Why in News?
- China has announced that under the multi-billion-dollar CPEC it will set up a 1,124-megawatt power project- Kohala hydropower project– in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir despite India’s objection to it.
- The project will be built on the Jhelum River and aims at annually providing more than five billion units of clean and low-cost electricity for consumers in Pakistan.