Op-ed

CPEC and American Concerns

 

Azhar Hashmi

The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, better known as the One Belt and One Road Initiative (OBOR), The Belt and Road and The Belt and Road Initiative is a development strategy proposed by China’s paramount leader Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries, primarily the People’s Republic of China the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and the oceangoing Maritime Silk Road. The strategy underlines China’s push to take a larger role in global affairs with a China-centered trading network. It was unveiled in September and October 2013. It was initially called One Belt and One Road, but in mid-2016 the official English name was changed to the Belt and Road Initiative due to misinterpretations of the term one. In the past three years, the focuses were mainly on infrastructure investment, construction materials, railway and highway, automobile, real estate, power grid, and iron and steel.

 

People of Pakistan and all elements of national opinion
had complete and unwavering consensus on the CPEC
being a game-changer for Pakistan’s economy and polity.

 

Recently US Defense Secretary James Mattis expressed American concerns about CPEC and OBOR. The One Belt, One Road also goes through disputed territory, and I think that in itself shows the vulnerability of trying to establish that sort of a dictate.

Chinese and Pakistan government dismissed the apprehensions of USA.  An initiative like OBOR & CPEC that aims to end poverty of over 800 million people through shared prosperity should be welcomed and not rejected by a developed country like the USA. Ill-founded opposition aimed at creating uncertainty about the grand project was no service to the global peace and development. Poverty, inequality and underdevelopment were shared challenges of the whole South Asia.  OBOR and CPEC promise to address these questions by creating a community of shared prosperity. It is important to avoid raising doubts about these global initiatives that seek empowerment of the people.

Chinese President’s reiteration at the recent OBOR summit that OBOR aims at harmonious coexistence without any geo-political agenda. “It is highly unfair to label OBOR as isolationist or with any peculiar agenda and global powers should encourage its development by resolving any regional disputes in its way. Initiatives of China to share knowledge, resources and prosperity with 65 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa as “highly commendable”.

Since the launch of OBOR, the total trade between China and other Belt and Road countries during 2014-2016 had exceeded US$3 trillion, Chinese investments in OBOR countries had exceeded USD 50 billion and China’s total investment under OBOR initiative is envisaged at over USD 1 trillion. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Project (CPEC) alone was worth over USD 60 billion and was estimated to exceed USD 100 billion. “Already around 2000 MW under CPEC has been added to the national grid in Pakistan and a total of 19 projects are at different stages of speedy completion including the modern mass transit train system called the Orange Line.

OBOR was now a global reality that was well and truly underway with formal cooperation between over 100 countries and international organizations, which attended the OBOR summit this year including the USA. Important resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly and Security Council contain reference to OBOR and the Chinese President in his OBOR summit speech this year had held that OBOR was open to all countries and had invited countries from Asia, Europe and Americas to participate in it. “This global initiative aimed at economic uplift of all countries should be applauded and facilitated rather than criticized and rejected” he urged.