How will Pakistan-China Relations affect Germany and Australia? With Pakistan and US relations nearly severed to an end, China has taken up this opportunity to step closer than desirable. Since the unveiling of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Beijing has promised billions of grants and soft loans to its new partner. And this has gotten several countries such as Australia and Germany expressing concerns. Experts claim that Pakistan has taken a huge risk by shaking hands with China.
Now, word is that there is more to CPEC than pipelines, railway infrastructure and maritime links. According to various media reports, Pakistan is building a city, at a cost of about $150 million, to accommodate half a million Chinese nationals in Gwadar Port. The Gwadar Port is one of the mega projects being completed by the Chinese companies in Pakistan. It is regarded as a trans-shipment hub connected to landlocked western Chinese regions; Gwadar Port gives Beijing a secure and shorter international trade route through Pakistan.
According to VOA, Gwadar is celebrated as the flagship of President Xi Jinping’s global Belt and Road Initiative to build a ‘new Silk Road’ of land and maritime trade route across more than 60 countries in Asia, Europe and Africa. To house the Chinese workforce in the CPEC project, a Chinese city is being planned, and this will be a first such in South Asia. The proposed city is expected to be up by 2022. China already has exclusive townships for its citizens in Africa and Central Asia.
Muhammad Zubair, the governor of Sindh Province has openly acknowledged that the Chinese relationship is about more than economics. He said “obviously, they want to compete with America and want to make as many friends as possible on the way. They see that Pakistan is already facing the might of India, so China has a clear room for manoeuvre via Pakistan. They have global ambitions and we have been their friends long before anyone else.”
In regards to China overriding Pakistan, Zubair said that will always be the case between a lender and a borrower. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal argues that Pakistan has nowhere else to go.
Besides, China sees a huge potential in Pakistan as a market. Almost two-thirds of Pakistan’s 208 million people are aged under 30 and this is the driving demand in the fastest-growing retail market in the world. But keeping in mind China’s reputation, Pakistan better tread carefully, warn experts German and Australian experts.