PESHAWAR – Pakistan’s army and Chinese companies are in big business lockstep in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a US$87 billion plan to build ports, roads, railways and power plants to facilitate trade, spur growth and consolidate power over geopolitically contested lands.
The scheme, designed to span Pakistan’s length and breadth, has been reinvigorated since the Covid-19 pandemic as Beijing doubles down in pursuit of strategic alternatives for its trade and energy flows amid rising tensions with the United States and its allies.
In the past two months, amid the global pandemic’s economic devastation, Beijing has committed an additional $11 billion to the CPEC. Yet many of the projects are situated in geopolitically sensitive areas disputed with India, adding big-money fuel to the Asian giants’ intensifying Himalayan standoff.
China has big designs for Pakistan and the CPEC. The China-backed Gwadar Port in volatile Balochistan province aims specifically to give China access to the Indian Ocean, a presence that will help to protect and facilitate its trade and fuel shipments with the Middle East.