by: Dr. Hina Shahid, Expert on Eurasian Region and Advisor on BRI. Head Department of Arts and Media, Foundation University Islamabad & Member Board of Experts, PRCCSF.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Pakistan, proudly marks its entry into a new decade with a focus on realizing the CPEC Vision 2025. Symbolizing the enduring “All-Weather” cooperation between China and Pakistan, CPEC aims to connect Gwadar Port in southwestern Pakistan to China’s Xinjiang region through a comprehensive network of highways, railways, and pipelines, fostering trade between the two nations.
Initially structured as a “1+4” collaboration pattern, with CPEC at the center and priorities including Gwadar port, Energy, Transport Infrastructure, and Industrial Cooperation, the project has evolved to encompass large-scale infrastructure, economic development, and regional connectivity. Notably, over 33 completed projects and 30 projects under construction showcase progress aligned with the collaborative priorities.
CPEC’s objectives, as seen from the Chinese perspective, include advancing the western development strategy, accelerating Belt and Road construction, and fostering a new open economic system. From Pakistan’s standpoint, the vision is to harness its demographic and natural resources, enhance industrial capacity, balance regional development, improve well-being, and promote domestic peace.
Despite facing scrutiny and criticism, including concerns over becoming a Chinese colony and debt-trap allegations, CPEC remains a testament to the enduring alliance between China and Pakistan over the past 72 years. The project has played a pivotal role in transforming Pakistan’s economy by modernizing transportation systems, connecting ports, and improving energy infrastructure. Special Economic Zones and initiatives under the Public Sector Development Program have contributed to economic growth and improved livelihoods.
CPEC’s impact extends beyond bilateral cooperation, fostering regional economic development and connectivity. The completion of projects has reduced transportation costs and time, providing a crucial outlet for Central Asian countries and connecting regions.
While challenges persist, including environmental concerns and claims of creating a new world order, CPEC stands as a robust symbol of the strategic bond between China and Pakistan. As CPEC progresses towards its goals, it positions Pakistan as a regional connectivity hub with global influence, striving for full accomplishment by 2030.