From the decades, China is warmhearted for Pakistan in all-ways. China has very collegial and complex political, socio-economic and military relations with Pakistan, South Asia’s second largest economy and military power. As a result, governments of both countries openly call themselves “all-weather friends.” This all-weather friendship is like – “Higher than the mountains, deeper than the oceans and sweeter than the honey”. China has provided nuclear assistance, port transportation, and resource development infrastructure to Pakistan.
China has contributed to Pakistan’s national security by engaging arms sales and also collaborating with Pakistan in weapons production. It seems that China and Pakistan are enjoying the closest in history and strongest friendship amongst all China’s neighboring countries. Most participants in a round-table conference organised in 2010 in Islamabad on the theme “exploring the China-Pakistan relationship,” felt, “Pakistan sees United States as a fair weather friend and china as an all-weather friend.”
The traditional geo-political interests between China and Pakistan still carry the healthy relationships due to four strong reasons including their mutual strategic concerns about India; they agree to fight against terrorism and assure domestic stability; strong believe on healthy military cooperation and pursuit of growing through uneven economic ties.
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One of the major projects of China in Pakistan is China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which will be completed in three phase till 2030. The current estimated cost and investments in CPEC has been revised to $62 billion connectivity project from earlier estimate of $46 billion which is stretch out from the western Chinese city of Kashgar to Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port of Gwadar.
All the investments regarding CPEC is being done by China. It was initiated in 2015 which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Baluchistan. The first phase of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will be completed by 2018. According to Ministry of Planning, Development & Reform, Government of Pakistan, “The production of 10,000 MGW of energy under CPEC would help to overcome the energy production crisis by 2018.” China’s heavy investment in Pakistan is not only the game changer but as well as fate changer for Pakistan.
Another important investment is the establishment of deep-water port at Gwadar which is a major element of CPEC project because it could deliver an alternative shipping trade route for transporting oil into China. It is very important and major component of Beijing’s broader “Belt and Road Initiative”, a massive infrastructure development plan which also includes motorways, railways, pipelines and power lines.
China is the sole loan provider for Pakistan till date. China has invited other countries to make investments in CPEC. Pakistan continuously trying to adjust and maintain their Fiscal and Trade Deficits with the help of these loans. Exports are almost stalled and industry is shutting down in Pakistan because of various unfair trade and business agreements happening from last ten years. Pakistan is expecting to secure heavy amount of loans from China worth $1-2 billion to help it to maintain Balance of Payments crisis. So China has increased its economic investment in Pakistan over the past years, providing over $1.2 billion in loans to help the country sort out a possible currency crisis. “State-backed Chinese banks have come to Pakistan’s rescue twice already— a $900 million loan in 2016 and $300 million in 2017,” reported by Firstpost on 26 April 2017.
Pakistan will have to payback $100 billion to China by 2024 of total investment of $18.5 billion, which China has invested on account of bank loans in 19 early harvest projects, under CPEC. China has become the biggest lender to Pakistan after surpassing Japan. Pakistan owes $19 billion (1/5 of its total debt) to China. The CPEC loans will add $14 billion to Pakistan’s total public debt, raising it to $90 billion by June 2019, abating Pakistan’s economic ability to service huge amount of debt. There are two major objectives behind the heavy investment of China in Pakistan one is basically the commercial interest and influence in the region. Now china tightens it grip on Pakistan so the question is – can Pakistan payback China’s huge loan burden?
In short, its actually not a ‘all-weather friendship’ that China is looking for from this relations. Firstly, China wants to secure its border linked with Pakistan from terrorism. Secondly, It aims to align another anti-India state to contain India from future conflicts. Thirdly, by controlling Pakistan, China will also be able to contain the US from South Asia. India should use this as an unique opportunity to strengthen its tie with US.