CPEC: A project that turns into a roadblock for Pakistan Economy

File photo: China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Nov 27, 2019, 03.14 PM (IST)

The truth about CPEC is that it's a debt trap. The project has been controversial from the word go.

It was launched four years ago. The corridor is ridden with pitfalls and virtually no profits so far and its proving to be a long road to disaster. 

In the year 2015, several ministers and government officials, led by Nawaz Sharif queued up to welcome Xi Jinping in Pakistan.

The Chinese president was there to unveil the "China-Pakistan economic corridor". A multi-billion-dollar plan that would transform Pakistan into a regional economic hub. 

Four years later, the story of CPEC is quite different. It has failed to live up to the hype.

CPEC projects have slowed under Imran Khan. The cricketer-turned-politician began his prime ministership by ordering a comprehensive review.

"I think we should put everything on hold for a year so that we can get our act together. Perhaps we can stretch CPEC out over another five years or so", that's the reasoning that Pakistan's Minister for Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood gave last year.

The Imran Khan government maintained that they were not too happy with some contracts.

But, the problems are much deeper. The biggest concern is the security of the project. Terrorists have been targeting Chinese investments and citizens.

In May, three gunmen stormed a five-star hotel killing five people. The Pearl Continental hotel is being developed by China.

It's in Gwadar, home to the deep seaport that is the crown jewel of CPEC.

The biggest opposition is coming from Balochistan. The people there oppose Chinese investments. The Baloch people fear that they will become a minority in their own province if CPEC is allowed to go through.

Baloch nationalists have threatened and carried out attacks on Chinese installations.

China has invested too much in CPEC to back down now. Beijing has demanded security for Chinese nationals from Islamabad.

More than 17 thousand security personnel have been deployed for this purpose. But, china remains unhappy. Its investments still face the terror threat.

So Beijing is taking matters into their own hands. Some reports claim that Chinese troops have been spotted near CPEC projects.

By 2022, it plans to have its own city in Gwadar that will accommodate half a million Chinese citizens.

China is the clear beneficiary of CPEC. It will have its workforce working in Pakistan. Locals will have few job opportunities.

The bill for CPEC runs into billions of dollars. Almost all of the money for the projects is loaned from China and just like Sri Lanka, Pakistan is firmly caught in the dragon's debt trap.