China-Pak corridor envisages major Chinese presence across Pakistan - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Monday 15 May 2017

China-Pak corridor envisages major Chinese presence across Pakistan

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (Courtesy: Dawn)

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 16th May 17

A Pakistani English-language news daily, Dawn, has published comprehensive details of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a proposal that Beijing portrays as a vehicle for Pakistan’s development but which now appears as a thinly-disguised land grab that some in Pakistan already worry would compromise its sovereignty.

CPEC has so far been considered a road, rail and infrastructure link that links China’s remote northwestern Xinjiang province with Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea. The master plan, however, reveals a far more expansive project involving Chinese penetration into Pakistan’s agriculture, industry, telecommunications, surveillance and intelligence networks and even leisure and popular culture.

“The plan envisages a deep and broad-based penetration of most sectors of Pakistan’s economy as well as its society by Chinese enterprises and culture”, says Dawn, stating that the plan’s scope has no precedent in Pakistan’s history.

According to the plan, says Dawn, “thousands of acres of [Pakistani] agricultural land will be leased out to Chinese enterprises to set up ‘demonstration projects’ in areas ranging from seed varieties to irrigation technology. A full system of monitoring and surveillance will be built in cities from Peshawar to Karachi, with 24 hour video recordings on roads and busy marketplaces for law and order. A national fibreoptic backbone will be built for the country not only for internet traffic, but also terrestrial distribution of broadcast TV, which will cooperate with Chinese media in the “dissemination of Chinese culture”.

Dawn says: “One of the most intriguing chapters in the plan speaks of a long belt of coastal enjoyment industry that includes yacht wharfs, cruise homeports, nightlife, city parks, public squares, theaters, golf courses and spas, hot spring hotels and water sports.”

Recognising the insecurity across Pakistan, particularly in the insurgency-ridden northwest, there is a plan to build a “pilot safe city” in Peshawar.

In dealing with industrialisation, the master plan trifurcates Pakistan into three zones, earmarking specific industries for each zone. The western and northwestern zone, covering Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, is marked for colonial-style resource extraction of chrome ore, gold, diamonds and marble.

The central zone is marked for textiles, household appliances and future cement clusters. This is puzzling, since the plan notes that Pakistan is already surplus in cement capacity. Heavy industry is earmarked for the southern zone around Karachi and Gwadar ports.

Gwadar, which New Delhi worries could be used as a base for Chinese naval vessels, “is positioned as the direct hinterland connecting Balochistan and Afghanistan.” The report notes that “some Chinese enterprises have started investment and construction in Gwadar” taking advantage of its “superior geographical position and cheap shipping costs to import crude oil from the Middle East, iron ore and coking coal resources from South Africa and New Zealand”.

According to the master plan, the CPEC “spans Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and whole Pakistan in spatial range” (sic). Its main aim is to connect South Xinjiang with Pakistan.”

The CPEC is divided into a “core area” and “radiation zones”, which will feel the “knock on effects of the work being done in the core area”. Listed in the “core area” is “most of the Islamabad’s Capital territory, Punjab, and Sindh, and some areas of Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, and Balochistan”. This is effectively most of Pakistan.

Dawn’s expose, entitled “CPEC master plan revealed” quotes from an original 231-page document, developed by Chinese experts and transmitted to Islamabad in June 2015. It is not possible to check the authenticity of the master plan.

According to the newspaper “Chinese experts teams made multiple visits to Pakistan and Xinjiang during this period, drawing up a detailed picture of the situation in every area, prioritizing those that will come first, and identifying ‘hidden dangers’, bottlenecks and risks that should be anticipated along the way.”

On Sunday and Monday, China hosted a major conference on its One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, of which the CPEC is a key part. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended the conference, along with representatives from about a hundred countries.

India was a prominent absentee from the conference due to concerns that the CPEC, which passes through the Pakistan-occupied Gilgit-Baltistan region of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), infringes upon India’s sovereignty, given our claim over J&K. 


  1. Pakistan has made a practical decision to give in, in order to get something. India under Modi has just not been able to manage its geo-strategic interests anywhere in the world. Modi's compulsion to be present only at places where he is the darling of the crowd, has resulted in big losses to India.

  2. Back in ~320bc, the indian king porus and taxila were hostile terms. Porus defeated taxila several times but always refused to absorb his kingdom into his own. Porus was worried that the people of taxila were too different and unstable and absorbing taxila into the puru state would destabilize the larger puru state. Each time, king taxila was defeated but pardoned by the short sighted king porus. Taxila would eventually reassemble his army of conquest and the cycle kept continuing. Years later, taxila got to know of the approaching macedonian king alexander and he sent his emissaries to greet him with large material gifts and the request to become his ally in the coming macedonian conquest on the indian sub-continent. Taxila and alexander eventually went on to defeat king porus although alexander and his macedonian army was left mortally wounded in the war and the conquest came to an end at the gates of punjab.


    Things are beginning to repeat themselves. We had a sign of an alexander(the US) show up at our door in 1971 but they never flew their fighters off the USS and retreated diplomatically. But now there is a new alexander in town(china) and he is not retreating. They got knee deep with nuclear proliferation to pakistan and now with CPEC, they've "dipped" completely.

    The CPEC has three objectives:
    1) Import of minerals and energy from middle-east, central asia and europe > to china

    2) Export of finished goods to middle-east, central asia and europe > from china

    3) A military angle to secure these trade routes and to enable the coming geopolitical ambitions of china-pakistan.

    The pakistanis are willing to offer themselves to the chinese(just like with alexander) in return for the conquest of hind just as their forefather(mughuls) once did and to take command of their inheritance. They(hind muslims) actually have no allegiance to the nation state of pakistan apart that the serfs of pakistan provide sustenance in their exile and the army of reconquest that they are trying to assemble.

    Very tough times ahead. Call me pre-mature but indian nuclear tests might eventually resume.

  3. Indeed a "penetration" from china into pakistan!
    Pakistan will die as a state to become colony of WW3 which India will have to fight hard to occupy or destroy. China sinks in money thinking its smart. But its foolish of them to sink money in risky territory. Every smart dog has a bad foolish habit that gets it killed someday. CPEC is chinas!

  4. Look at how China puts its planning skills to work. And in what field is India utilizing its planning skills? Govt of India has recently told the Supreme Court that 'Each cow (should)be tagged with a Unique Identification Number with proper records of identification details such as age, breed, sex, lactation, height, body, colour, horn type, tail switch, special mark etc.” Ministry of Agriculture has devised a method of tamper-proof identification of cattle using polyurethane tags with a Unique Identification Number Sequence. We deserve better.

  5. It's truly stunning to read what's happening with Pakistan and china. It makes one absolutely numb to see a country lose all self-confidence to develop, build and defend itself, the people, the leaders all of them have lost all hope in their ability and simply cannot govern themselves.And after all that is being pledged to China what is left for them? What are they going to govern if they don't truly own even a piece of dirt?
    For our country the signs are not good, Chinese realise that in the future our buying power will only increase and they desperately need a country of our size and population to sustain their debt fuelled growth. They also realise that our neighbour/s are desperate for strategic parity with us (partly because they (neighbours) simply cannot think that they are apart from us), this is also partly fueled by what the chinese perceive as "open dissent" since chinese do not conform to any democratic norms whatsoever, rampant corruption which is real, bikering blundering state governaments which is also real all these things are creating a perception that we are a weak state.
    The only way out is to seek parity in our own measured way with china both militarily and economically. The defining feature of this Chinese century will be how India sought parity with China. Our destiny is set and we should be on our way.

  6. Sachin,

    Porus was a king of the Pauravas, not India. He was a Punjabi, his descendants are probably still alive in Punjab, Pakistan. Those clans are still there. Your claim to him is in the same bracket as British claim to Alexander. The only thing common is the sub-continent. If you need to feel some pride don't make up history.

    Chinese are clever, there is only one way to make sure india remains where it is. Keep Pakistan strong. It will also ensure Pak stays friendly to China. Chinese know that Paks are loyal to their friends. Look at how they supported the Taliban against the might of USA, NATO and ISAF. Pak just by being strong will mean no or very limited indian influence in central asia and the middle east. Moodi Bhakts drream of super power will be just that.



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