China’s long term plans for Pakistan would do the East India Company proud. Proposals for the China Pakistan Economic Corridor revealed in Pakistani newspaper Dawn envisage thousands of acres of agricultural land being leased to Chinese enterprises to set up demonstration projects and a fibre-optic system that will facilitate the dissemination of Chinese culture.
The proposals seem to confirm that Pakistan will become an economic colony of China as CPEC will help Beijing tighten its strategic embrace of its ally and provide it connectivity from Xinjiang to the Arabian Sea at Gwadar in Balochistan.
The range and scope of the plan is breathtaking, showing a deep penetration into Pakistan’s economic life. This could have several implications for India – Pakistan’s sovereignty could be forfeited to Chinese interests and China would be uncomfortably close to India’s borders in the east and west.
It would be a virtual ring-fence of India.
Thousands of acres of Pakistani agricultural land will be leased to Chinese enterprises, according to proposals for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The land will be leased for projects ranging from seed varieties to irrigation technology. A full system of monitoring and surveillance will be built from Peshawar to Karachi, with 24-hour video recordings on roads and busy marketplaces for law and order.
A national fibre optic backbone will be used not only for internet traffic but also terrestrial distribution of broadcast TV, which will cooperate with Chinese media in popularising China’s culture.
The Pakistani government has argued that CPEC will spur the economy and its linkages with agriculture and power will benefit citizens. Its critics, particularly in Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan+ , feel it is an infringement on their land and culture.
Others have pointed to strings attached to Chinese aid. It was noted that the “CM” of Gilgit Baltistan was not involved in the One Belt, One Road discussions in Beijing attended by PM Nawaz Sharif.
The Dawn report said, “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. Its scope has no precedent in Pakistan’s history in terms of how far it opens up the domestic economy to participation by foreign enterprises.”
The report concluded, “In the areas of interest contained in the plan, it appears access to the full supply chain of the agrarian economy is a top priority for the Chinese.
After that, the capacity of the textile spinning sector to serve the raw material needs of Xinjiang, and the garment and value added sector to absorb Chinese technology is another priority.
Next is the growing domestic market, particularly in cement and household appliances, which receive detailed treatment in the plan.
And lastly, through greater financial integration, the plan seeks to advance the internationalisation of the renminbi, as well as diversify the risks faced by Chinese enterprises entering Pakistan.”
Laying out the risks, it said the topmost problem was politics and security. The next big risk was inflation, which the plan said had averaged 11.6% over the past six years.
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