China-Pakistan Economic Tie-Up in Turmoil

at 4:37 pm

Column

By R C Ganjoo

The economic war is spreading like jungle fire and vexing the lives of common people living around the globe.

Sri Lanka’s deep economic crises are so real that they cast their shadow on Pakistan.

In the present scenario, the political instability and social unrest have ultimately destabilized Pakistan’s economy to face difficult times.

The mega project of USD 46 billion, known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have been in the line of fire.

China’s BRI is a strategy initiated by the People’s Republic of China that seeks to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks with the aim of improving regional integration, increasing trade, and stimulating economic growth.

But the increase in attacks on Chinese engineers, technicians and workers involved in various projects of the CPEC in Balochistan and Pakistan clearly suggest the anger among the Baloch freedom groups, particularly the frontline outfit Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The anger among these main stakeholders is because of the demolished economic prosperity in Balochistan owing to exploitation by Pakistan.

According to experts,  the Baloch people’s poor socio-economic conditions, exploitation of their region’s natural resources and the torturous role of the Pakistani apparatus against them are the causes of deep-rooted anger against the Pakistan, which has occupying Balochistan since 1948.

The economic charisma of BRI has been launched by forces of neocolonialism through the help of hybrid war.

On the other hand, China’s support to Sri Lanka in defending its national sovereignty and upgrading the Belt and Road projects also received a jolt.

Another strategically important country of Southeast Asia – Maldives – had the same replications because of its growing socio-economic ties and cooperation with China.

Western political observers are of the opinion that China’s growing economic footprint in Africa, especially its BRI, is suspect.

They argue that Chinese investment is a debt trap that will eventually lead to neo-colonialism.

They apprehend that the Chinese debt trap is likely to surface even in Nigeria, Kenya, or Ethiopia.

Against  the Chinese BRI, the European Union has announced its own BRI Global Gateway to help Africa and other developing countries.

Moreover, the G-7 led by the US has also announced the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative to counter the Chinese BRI economic influence around the world

Now, after the CPEC, Pakistan, in a secret land deal, has leased out Upper Hunza Valley in mineral-rich Gilgit-Baltistan to China in an attempt to ease the debt burden from the Chinese in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

The deal will allow Chinese companies to mine in the Gilgit Baltistan regions putting locals out of jobs.

The “land-grabbing” in the name of development under the CPEC banner has enraged locals and in turn, resulted in a flurry of protests across the region over months now,   media reports.