Forging the Future: The Transformative Impact of the CPEC
By : Moiz Farooq
Executive Editor, Pakistan Economic Net and Daily Ittehad Media Group
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), embodies President Xi Jinping’s vision of regional connectivity and a people-focused development model. Gwadar Port, the centerpiece of this initiative, showcases the profound ambition of this project. The BRI, which aims to rejuvenate the historic Silk Road, plays a crucial role in China’s foreign policy, with participation from over 150 countries, representing 75% of the global population and half of the world’s GDP.
CPEC, being the Flagship project of the BRI, has significantly transformed Pakistan’s infrastructure and economic landscape. It has been instrumental in enhancing connectivity and trade between Pakistan and China, resulting in substantial infrastructure development. These advancements include highways, ports, and energy projects that have improved transportation, energy efficiency, and the lives of millions in Pakistan by creating employment opportunities and improving resource access.
The first phase of CPEC saw several key developments, including the completion of the KKH Phase-II, focusing on infrastructure, energy, Gwadar port development, and enhancing people-to-people connectivity. The ongoing second phase marks a shift towards industrialization, agricultural modernization, socio-economic development, and advancements in Science and Information Technologies, building on the investments made in the initial phase.
The CPEC has not only fostered economic and financial cooperation but also strengthened cultural ties and people-to-people exchanges, enhancing mutual understanding and friendship between China and Pakistan. This project has significantly increased Pakistan’s foreign direct investment, making the country an attractive destination for global businesses.
By the end of its first phase, CPEC had brought $25.4 billion in direct investment to Pakistan, creating about 236,000 jobs. It contributed to Pakistan’s energy sector by adding 8,000 megawatts of electricity, extending the national core transmission grid by 886 km, and constructing 510 km of highways.
In the past decade, China’s investment of nearly $30 billion in Pakistan, primarily in energy and infrastructure, has been pivotal in stabilizing the country’s economy. This includes refinancing loans and a recent $2.3 billion loan, providing essential economic support. Majorprojects completed under CPEC in Gwadar, such as the Gwadar Power Plant, the new Gwadar International Airport, and educational and healthcare facilities, have significantly contributed to the region’s development.
The second phase of CPEC, with its focus on industrialization, agricultural modernization, socio-economic development, and advancements in Science and Information Technologies (SITs), holds immense promise. This phase is expected to build on the foundational investments in energy and transport infrastructure, aiming to propel Pakistan towards a more diversified and technologically advanced economy. It envisions the creation of industrial parks and Special Economic Zones (SEZs), which are anticipated to attract further international investment, enhance manufacturing capabilities, and generate additional employment opportunities.
Moreover, the second phase is likely to emphasize sustainable development and environmental considerations, aligning with global trends towards green energy and eco-friendly practices. This approach not only aims to ensure the long-term viability of the projects but also to foster a more inclusive and sustainable economic growth model for Pakistan.
In agriculture, the focus on modernization and technological integration is expected to revolutionize Pakistan’s agricultural sector, increasing productivity and ensuring food security. This will involve the introduction of new farming techniques, better irrigation systems, and the use of technology for crop monitoring and management.
In the realm of socio-economic development, the emphasis will be on projects that directly improve the quality of life for the people of Pakistan. This includes investments in education, healthcare, and community development projects, ensuring that the benefits of CPEC are widely distributed and touch the lives of ordinary citizens.
As CPEC enters its second phase, the expectations are high. The second Phase is set to enhance cooperation in Science and Information Technologies, promoting research, innovation, and digitalization in Pakistan. This is expected to foster a knowledge-based economy, opening new avenues for growth and development.
The project stands as a beacon of economic opportunity, regional connectivity, and shared prosperity, promising to transform not just the landscape of Pakistan but also to fortify the enduring friendship and strategic cooperation between China and Pakistan. The CPEC’s journey into its next phase is watched with optimism, as it continues to pave the way for a brighter, more prosperous future for both nations and the wider region.