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.
- CPEC is part of the larger Belt and Road Initiative.
- China’s Belt and Road Initiative aims to strengthen Beijing’s economic leadership through a vast program of infrastructure building throughout China’s neighbouring regions.
- The plan was two-pronged: the overland Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road. The project initially aimed to strengthen connectivity with Southeast Asia but later expanded to South and Central Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America.
- CPEC was launched in 2015 and it now envisages investment of over USD 70 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.
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?
- Pakistan and China have signed six key documents to help undertake the second phase of the USD 60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
- The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Balochistan with China’s Xinjiang province, is opposed by India as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.