Academic journal article Journal of Political Studies

Gwadar-Kashgar Economic Corridor: Challenges and Imperatives for Pakistan and China

Academic journal article Journal of Political Studies

Gwadar-Kashgar Economic Corridor: Challenges and Imperatives for Pakistan and China

Article excerpt

Introduction

Pakistan and China have convergence of national interests in economic and strategic aspects. The span of their diplomatic relations stretched over six decades. Both countries are tied to each other by geo-political dynamics as geographical location aids route linking China with Middle East and Central Asian Republics (CARs). The Central Asian states possess two hundred billion barrels oil and about three thousand billion cubic meters of gas reserves with major reservoirs in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Pakistan is at such geographical location from where she can facilitate transit trade and pipeline routes for the export of CARs natural resources and contribute in their economic development.(Alamgir, 2011)

Pakistan and China strategic relations have been strengthened by Gawadar, which projects to boost Pakistan's regional prominence as it is located over coastal belt of 600 kilometers long stretch with merely a distance of 624 nautical kilometers from the busy commercial route of the Strait of Hormuz (which carries 13 million barrel oil per day), 120 kilometers from Iran border and 460 kilometers from Karachi.(Alamgir, 2011) These factors have had caused mainly fostered Pakistan's domination of the Indian Ocean from Persian Gulf to Southeast Asia and the Far East. The energy rich states of central Asia have an opportunity to tap their natural energy resources to the rest of the world through this economic corridor. Gawadar deep sea port with the initial investment of 248 million US $ was set up on the unexplored seashores of Pakistan. (Mughal, 2009) The distance differential of China's western region from to its eastern coast (3500 kilometers) and Gawadar (1500 kilometers) is approximately 2000 kilometers.

China's major oil energy needs are met through the Gulf region (40 % of the world's oil source). Furthermore, China's 70 % energy needs (17% of world energy consumer) are being met through coal energy.(www.chinafaqs) Consumption of environmentally friendly fuel has become a pressing demand from the western countries. China's dependence on its SLOCs through hostile and vulnerable Pacific zone and Malacca Strait is one of the major reasons that forced China to look for an alternative road / rail links with the world. Absence of China's naval footprints on Indian Ocean / Arabian Sea also makes her ships vulnerable to piracy and threats from the world superpower domination of these oceans during any future conflict.

For Pakistan; Unrest in Balochistan, prevailing law and order milieu, turbulent security situation in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), political divide on core national issues, power corruption, and a weak economy are some of the major issues.

In today's world, importance of sea access can't be ruled out for any country warranting construction of roads/ highways to access the sea. Pakistan is blessed with sea frontage of 1046 Kms(www.photius.com) stretching to the West. Many sea port sites are available along sea shore of Pakistan out of which Karachi and Port Qasim is functional. Gawadar port is being developed and plans are underway to connect it with China by establishing the long awaited Gawadar-Kashghar economic corridor (GKEC). This corridor will have great importance not only for Pakistan and China but for entire region.

Pakistan has always been a recipient of aid and support from China. A strong bond between both countries is caused by several reasons. China and Pakistan have the hostility with the neighboring India on geo-political disputes.

This common malignance with India gets them closer. More significantly, China lies in the East Asia. It does not have land access to the Middle East. This access is available through Pakistan via Gwadar Port. From 1966 to 1978, KKH was constructed that links China with the gulf countries. The linking of China with this port provides numerous financial benefits. Gawadar when operational will link CARs to outside world. …

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