The sheer ambition and scale of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which was unveiled during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to Islamabad, is truly staggering. China’s unprecedented investment commitment to the tune of $46bn gives some substance to the hyperbolic expression “higher than the Himalayas, deeper than the Indian Ocean and sweeter than honey,” that has come to define bilateral relations between China and Pakistan for many decades.
President Xi’s visit, although touted as a visit with economics as its core objective, had an obvious strategic dimension; one that involves defence trade. Besides the promise of supplying Pakistan with eight submarines, it has emerged that China will provide 110 latest JF-17 Thunder fighter jets to Pakistan as the two countries forge closer defence cooperation. Also built on a transfer-of-technology basis, the JF-17 can be read as Pakistan’s response to India’s Rafale deal, coming on the heels of the latter. Shrouded between 51 agreements to boost economic cooperation during Xi’s trip, there are clear strategic undertones, belying the notion that the visit was not just about pure economics.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
The visit and, more so, the nature of bilateral agreements between China and Pakistan have undoubtedly ruffled some feathers in the Indian strategic circles.An investment worth $28bn in new trade and investment deals is part of the mega $46bn that will be used to construct the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. The CPEC project will see the 3,000km trade route built over the next 15 years, with Chinese investments and companies building new roads and pipelines along the proposed route, which runs the length of Pakistan.