One Belt, One Road, One Big Mistake

Source: Foreign Policy

The headlines coming out of this year’s APEC conference in Papua New Guinea focused on the conflict between America and China that kept the forum from issuing a joint communiqué. Less noticed were two short memorandums released on the sidelines of the conference by the island nations of Vanuatu and Tonga. In return for renegotiating existing debt, both agreed to become the newest participants—following other Pacific nations like Papua New Guinea and Fiji—in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign-policy venture, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

As Xi’s trillion-dollar development strategy has snaked away from the Eurasian heartland and into the South Pacific, western Africa, and Latin America, concern has grown. Many Americans fear that the Belt and Road Initiative is an extension of efforts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to undermine the security and economic architecture of the international order. China’s growing largesse, they worry, comes largely at the expense of international institutions and American influence.

This angst lies behind another announcement made at last month’s APEC gathering: Australia, Japan, and the United States declared that they had formed their own trilateral investment initiative to help meet infrastructure needs in the Indo-Pacific. For some this is not enough: In its most recent report to the United States Congress, the bipartisan U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission recommended that Congress create an additional fund “to provide additional bilateral assistance for countries that are a target of or vulnerable to Chinese economic or diplomatic pressure.”

This is the wrong response to the Belt and Road Initiative. Ignore the hype: For the Chinese, this initiative has been a strategic blunder. By buying into the flawed idea that barrels of money are all that is needed to solve complex geopolitical problems, China has committed a colossal error. Xi’s dictatorship makes it almost impossible for the country to admit this mistake or abandon his pet project. The United States and its allies gain nothing from making China’s blunders their own.

In Xi’s speeches, the phrase most closely associated with the Belt and Road Initiative is “community of common destiny.” Xi’s use of this term is meant to link the BRI to the deeper purpose party leaders have articulated for the CCP over the last three decades. China’s leaders believe that not only is it their “historic mission” to bring about China’s “national rejuvenation” as the world’s most prestigious power, but that China has a unique role to play in the development of “political civilization” writ large.

It is the Chinese, Xi maintains (as Hu and Jiang did before him), who have adapted socialism to modern conditions, and in so doing have created a unique Chinese answer to “the problems facing mankind.” Though this answer began in China, Xi is clear that the time has come for “Chinese wisdom and a Chinese approach” to benefit those outside of China. The Belt and Road Initiative is intended to do just that. By using the Chinese model of socialism to develop the world’s poorer regions, the initiative justifies Xi’s grandiose claims about the party’s historic mission on the international stage.

To match these lofty aims, Chinese academics and policy analysts at prestigious party think tanks have articulated more down-to-earth goals for the initiative. According to them, the BRI promises to integrate China’s internal markets with those of its neighbours. Doing so will bring its neighbours closer to China geopolitically and bring stability to the region. By increasing economic activity in China’s border regions, such as Xinjiang and Tibet, the Belt and Road Initiative will lessen the appeal that separatist ideology might have to the residents. Another projected benefit is the energy security that will come through the construction of BRI-funded transport routes. Finally, by articulating and then following through on an initiative that puts common development over power politics, China will gain an advantage over other major countries (read: Japan and the United States) who present the world as a black-and-white competition for hegemony. The community of common destiny, these analysts have claimed, is a community that will immensely benefit China.

As the Belt and Road Initiative is only five years old (and many of its main members have been involved for a far shorter time) its full results cannot yet be judged. However, a preliminary assessment can be offered for BRI projects in South and Southeast Asia, the region described by Chinese leaders as the “main axis” of the Belt and Road Initiative. It is here that BRI investment is strongest and has been around longest. The picture is not promising. The hundreds of billions spent in these countries has not produced returns for investors, nor political returns for the party. Whether Chinese leaders actually seek a financial return from the Belt and Road Initiative has always been questionable—the sovereign debt of 27 BRI countries is regarded as “junk” by the three main ratings agencies, while another 14 have no rating at all.

Investment decisions often seem to be driven by geopolitical needs instead of sound financial sense. In South and Southeast Asia expensive port development is an excellent case study. A 2016 CSIS report judged that none of the Indian Ocean port projects funded through the BRI have much hope of financial success. They were likely prioritized for their geopolitical utility. Projects less clearly connected to China’s security needs have more difficulty getting off the ground: the research firm RWR Advisory Group notes that 270 BRI infrastructure projects in the region (or 32 per cent of the total value of the whole) have been put on hold because of problems with practicality or financial viability. There is a vast gap between what the Chinese have declared they will spend and what they have actually spent.

There is also a gap between how BRI projects are supposed to be chosen and how they actually have been selected. Xi and other party leaders have characterized BRI investment in Eurasia as following along defined “economic corridors” that would directly connect China to markets and peoples in other parts of the continent. By these means the party hopes to channel capital into areas where it will have the largest long-term benefit and will make cumulative infrastructure improvements possible.

CPEC win-win project for Pakistan & China – Sartaj Aziz.

Source: The Nation.

ISLAMABAD – Former finance minister and PML-N leader Sartaj Aziz has said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a win-win arrangement for both Pakistan and China and all projects under the CPEC must be materialised without any delay as it would lead to industrialisation in Pakistan

He was speaking at the opening plenary of 21st Sustainable Development Conference (SDC) organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Wednesday.

Aziz said that CPEC is not only a package of road and energy projects, but also a tool of connectivity among think tanks, public and private sector, common people, and ideas. For successful transformation from trade to knowledge corridor, he said, it is very important to take confidence-building measures among all the stakeholders.

“The real challenge of 21st century is artificial intelligence and technological upheaval, which took over physical existence of labour force, he said, adding that however, at the same time it brings prosperity in the society as a whole. He maintained that technology is going to transform the job market and the real challenge was how we were preparing ourselves to take up this challenge. He stressed the need to build knowledge corridor under CPEC that, what he said, would help Pakistan bridge the gap between artificial intelligence and technology.

About the issue of climate change South Asia is facing today, he said that the real issue was of capacity to tackle the dire implication of climate change. He further said that water was an important part of the climate change and we need to go beyond building dams, which is water security, water course lining, drip irrigation, and water management. He said that existing irrigation practices were not compatible which is consuming 60 per cent of our freshwater resources. He said that planning for affordable energy resources was another challenge to tackle and we need to concentrate on agriculture sector which will increase our exports growth and agricultural trade. For that we need to focus on agriculture for the next three to four years, he added.

In his introductory speech, SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said that one of the objectives of this 21st edition of SDC was to highlight importance of knowledge connectivity among three culturally and academically rich regions, i.e. South Asia, Central Asia, and China. He said that one of the pre-requisites for knowledge corridors was intellectual and academic interaction, where the CPEC had the potential to link South Asia to China and Central Asia. However, in order to get maximum benefit out of this economic corridor, Dr Suleri said, Pakistan needed to build a knowledge corridor with China and Central Asia. In order to harness full potential of emerging economic corridors, governments in South Asia must take specific initiatives within a new policy paradigm for pursuing peace, overcoming poverty and protecting the life support systems of the planet, he added.

Haroon Sharif, chairman of Board of Investment, said that it was important to reflect upon why South Asia is lagging behind in capitalising on its true potential of trade, connectivity, and investments. “The opportune time will not come by itself, and we have to create and strive for the right time to move.” The lens with which the developed world used to look at South Asian countries is changing from security to huge market for trade and investments, he said, adding that this transition from geo-political and security lens to economic lens is putting Pakistan back on track of growth and development. He said that economies in West Asia, East Asia and beyond were now looking towards us in terms of improved and enhanced economic relations. He also stressed the need to look at Pakistan’s capability to handle the demands of the emerging markets.

He said that new financial architecture was emerging in the region, such as opening of Asian Infrastructure Bank, Silk Road Fund, China Development Bank, and BRIC bank, therefore, there was a need to learn as to how this region could smartly use these resources for growth and prosperity. At public policy level, Sharif said that there was a very clear realisation at political leadership level that the partnerships with key Asian states could be successful only if we ensured transparency and zero-tolerance for corruption.

Prof Amitabh Kundu, fellow of Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), India said that climate change and environmental degradation was the major issue and it was the shared responsibility of all countries of Asia to tackle this challenge through cooperation. Identifying the issue of growing inequality, he said that it was a big hurdle in achieving SDGs in the region. In order to achieve the shared objectives of growth and prosperity, he said, we must address the three major dimensions of human development, i.e. inequality in economic, health and education sectors.

He said that South-South Cooperation and regional integration would go a long way in handing these challenges and that must be built on mutual trust. The essence of this cooperation is solidarity among countries of the South that could contribute to national well-being. “We should all work for a collective agenda for development of South Asia that might lead the region towards new heights of hope, progress, and prosperity.

World Bank official lauds BRI, CPEC role in promoting intra-regional trade

Source: The News
Date: 5th December, 2018.

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank (WB) on Tuesday disclosed that around 71 countries under Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) obtained around 5 percent debt from China including Pakistan but stressed upon the need for ensuring more access to the data and transparency.

While addressing at SDPI conference here on Tuesday, Caroline Freund, WB’s Director Macroeconomics, Trade & Investment said that BRI and China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) were playing important role for promoting intra- regional trade by building infrastructure but the trade facilitation was required to enhance trade among different regions of the world including this part of the world. The infrastructure alone cannot promote trade but other requisites such as facilitation can help a lot to ensure trade among different parts of the world.

“We are conducting a detailed study about BRI but our initial assessment shows that debt has not become major problem for loan recipient countries under this mega initiative. It stands at around 5 percent of total loans portfolio of 71 countries of BRI,” she added. The trade, she said, had gone up in recent years among different countries and regions of the world.

She said the debt provided by China to BRI countries was highlighted as major problem but their study showed that it was not as big as mentioned in recent news reports. However, she stressed upon the need for sharing more data and placing transparency to ascertain facts based on reality.

On the occasion, Deputy Mission Chief of China’s Embassy in Pakistan Lijian Zhao said that the misconception of debt trap levelled against BRI proved a lie through the work done by the WB. He said that the BRI helped generating 200000 jobs out of which 75000 jobs were created in Pakistan through CPEC. He said that Pakistan became the largest recipient of FDI from China and largest trading partner with help of CPEC. He said the industrialisation was pre-requisite for economic development and in next five years the setting up of factories into Special Economic Zones (SEZs) would be the priority areas between China and Pakistan.

The first SEZs, he said, would become operational in Rashakai and concession agreement between Chinese company and KP government would be signed soon. He said that all SEZs being established in Pakistan would be open for all other countries. All those who complained about missing train in earlier energy projects now they can catch up for the establishment of entities into upcoming SEZs, he maintained.

He said the CPEC would be expanded to Afghanistan and Iran and the upcoming trilateral meeting scheduled to be held on December 15 at Kabul could become the starting point to move ahead.

He said that people to people contact must be the priority areas. He mentioned that there were more than 67000 students belonging to Korea who are studying in China and Pakistani students were in the range of 22000 at the moment. With population of 50 million, there are more than 1000 flights between China and Korea so Pakistan with population of over 206 million must realise its real potential.

CPEC and Terrorists Attack on China’s Karachi Consulate

Soure: Pakistan Observer
Author: Col (Retd) Muhammad Hanif
Date: 5th December 2018

THE fierce attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi on the morning of 23 November 2018 was although well engineered by the foreign mentors of the terrorists, it completely failed to cause any harm to the Consulate staff, due to the daring defence done and sacrifices rendered by the Pakistan police and Rangers. Whereas all three terrorists were killed, two policemen also became  martyrs. While the attack seemed to be meant to give a message that China-Pakistan Strategic Partnership, and the CPEC), making/operation will be determinedly disturbed, the brave resistance put up by Pakistan’s security forces was a counter message to the terrorists and their sponsors that disturbing Pakistan’s vital interests will be a costly affair.

Since Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), a dissident/separatist group from Balochistan, accepted the responsibility for the attack, there is no doubt that young leaders and members of BLA are working under the guidance and support of their foreign sponsors. Instead of considering the CPEC as a golden chance for Balochistan’s economic development and welfare of its people, the young Baloch BLA absconders, under self exile abroad, are only serving themselves by playing into the hands of Pakistan’s enemies, with India being in the forefront.

As mentioned above, the message the terrorists wanted to give to China and Pakistan was however  clear that they wanted to convey to both the countries that the construction and operation of the CPEC will not be a smooth affair. While the message was aimed at discouraging the Chinese to construct the CPEC, to Pakistan, it was conveyed by its enemies that their efforts to destabilize Balochistan and the CPEC, by using the Afghan soil, will continue and real peace in the region is yet far away. This means that while Pakistan’s war on terror in FATA and elsewhere has almost been eliminated, a lot is yet to be done to ensure peace in Balochistan and around the CPEC.

This objective needs constant vigilance throughout Pakistan and the exercise Raddul Fassad has to continue for an indefinite period. In other words, whereas  Pakistani security forces have to be ready to fight this hybrid anti-terrorism war launched by its enemies, the Pakistani government and its people have also to work together to implement all the provisions of the National Action Plan (NAP). However, while fighting this war, the defence of the Chinese in Pakistan in their Embassy and Consulates, and those engaged in the construction and operation of the CPEC has to be given a top priority.

To ensure the security of the Chinese officials and citizens in Pakistan, engaged directly or indirectly in the construction of the CPEC, the Security Division assigned to this task has to be vigilant and prepared to counter any Karachi like attacks, causing unbearable loss to the terrorists, to break their will to fight and defeat the resolve and ultimate objective of the BLA and other terrorist groups and their foreign sponsors. For this purpose, it is important that minimum two layered defence of the offices and areas where the Chinese are working or residing is organized. Under any circumstances, in their any future attacks, the terrorists should not be able to reach the inner perimeter of defence. Same applies to the Chinese moving from place A to B, as they should be properly guarded to ensure their security.

Apart from defending the Chinese resolutely by Pakistan’s security forces, to root out Balochistan and CPEC-related terrorism completely, there is a need that the Pakistan Government and the security forces should also launch interior and exterior approaches, using both hard and soft measures to discourage as well as to convince the misguided Baloch young people to to give up terrorism and join mainstream politics and activities to work for Balochistan’s economic progress and welfare of its people, by supporting the construction of the CPEC.

As part of the interior approach, to attract the Baloch youth, Pakistan’s related government ministries should give priority to the economic development in Balochistan and the creation of employment opportunities. Also, as a long time measure, education and health care services in Balochistan should be improved. At the same time, as a hard measure, the security forces should find out and target the BLA and other such groups’ hide-outs in Balochistan to break their will to fight and to make them surrender their weapons.

As part of the exterior approach, the Pakistan government should pursue all legal and diplomatic means to arrange the signing of the extradition of criminals’ agreements with the countries, where, BLA absconders are living in exile and try to get them back. After their return, either the dissidents should be made to surrender or face the legal charges of sedition, which should be lodged against them by the government in Pakistan’s superior courts.

CPEC may invite hybrid warfare against Pakistan

Source: Asia Times
Date: 5th December,2018.


Wars are expensive in terms of blood and treasure. Through the ages, this fundamental truth has driven military strategists to search for a quick and inexpensive path to victory in battle. The ultimate aim of any contesting nation is to force an unwilling enemy government to accept peace on its terms. In democratic countries, the actions of that hostile government are generally based on the will of the people, so no victory can be complete until that “will” is reshaped or moulded.

Liddell Hart, a British military theorist, argued that a man killed is merely one man less, whereas a man unnerved is a highly infectious carrier of fear, capable of spreading an epidemic of panic. Hart argued that the resulting psychological pressure on the government of a country may neutralize all the resources at its command – so that the sword drops from a paralyzed hand. Therefore, a successful strategist thinks in terms of paralysis, not killing.

The mechanism for inducing or coercing a quick change in the government’s position can occur in at least three ways: first, key governmental leaders are killed and replaced by a more sympathetic group; second, the government is overthrown, either by a popular revolt or from a faction within; or, third, the country’s leaders are persuaded  to change their minds.

Every country enjoys at least four instruments of national power or influence. They are: political, economic, military, and informational. In the modern age, the preferred method is to selectively attack or threaten targets that most directly support the enemy‘s will to continue with its current behavior.

Hybrid warfare, a relatively new concept, is a multiple-prong effort aimed at paralyzing the enemy’s leadership through military and non-military clandestine activities, economic subversion and propaganda dissemination. These techniques have been around for ages, but now they incorporate modern-day technologies and are synergized in a scientific manner.

Confusion and disorder follow when weaponized information aggravates the perception of insecurity in the populace as political, social, and cultural identities are pitted against one another.

A hybrid war takes place on three distinct battlefields: the conventional kind, the indigenous population of the conflict zone, and the international community.

Sometimes all it takes is a small and dedicated group of provocateurs to spark clashes with the authorities, along with misleading reports that the security forces are attacking “hard-pressed peaceful protesters.”

The whole point of engineering a completely false narrative of “democratic freedom fighters” resisting a “tyrannical, incompetent and corrupt” regime is that it serves the dual purposes of encouraging more citizens to join in the growing riot and to generate support from abroad. Therefore, hybrid war could mean a synergized campaign of disinformation, terrorism, cyber-attacks on digitally dependent communication networks, criminal activities, proxy sponsorship,, rebellion, insurgency, or anything like that.

Pakistan through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) guarantees China’s strategic freedom and flexibility in the face of the United States’ naval threats and nullifies all the trouble that it is causing along its southern maritime borderlands. Therefore, the US has a grand interest in disrupting, controlling, or influencing the Silk Road and CPEC.

Pakistan requires the rapid development of a communication network to facilitate cohesion and economic prosperity. However, the country is rife with historical, ethnic, religious, socio-economic, and geographic differences, which could be manipulated by the US and its arch-rival India to engineer violence and set a hybrid war scenario in motion. Many informed people in Pakistan are of the view that Pakistan is under hybrid attack by hostile forces.

In today’s world, apart from traditional media, popular social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube are the primary means of disinformation and propaganda. On these media platforms, various activities related to hybrid warfare are challenging to detect and defeat.

It is most likely that the authorities will always be one step behind the hybrid war agents unless the target government outrightly bans these services. The permanent closure of such services is not a wise option as it can shatter the credibility of the democratic government. Imposing restrictions is best employed for short periods during critical times, such as a few weeks before general elections and similarly important events.

It is also true that information, fake or otherwise, homegrown or imported, will have no impact unless it is accepted as fact by the masses. Therefore, the timely provision of information and critical thinking are the antidote to “fake news and hostile propaganda.” The government should work to enhance online digital platforms that are‘efficient and credible, to ensure the timely provision of information for consumption by the masses and interest groups.

All Pakistani institutions must work together to ensure that the top leadership,  both civil and military, remains credible. It will help us beat back hybrid assaults against CPEC and the state of Pakistan.

Thanks to CPEC, Gwadar real estate business on the rise

Source: The News International
Published by: N/A

ISLAMABAD: The real estate business in Gwadar is attracting investors from across the country as the city is being considered a business hub in near future soon after the completion of China-Pakistan Economic corridor (CPEC).

The Gwadar Port City is the next best destination for investment in real estate as a huge area of privately-owned land is being utilized for housing societies in the city.

Deputy Director Gwadar Development Authority (GDA), Changez Baloch told APP that real estate prices had been increased manifold during last few months.

He said that business situation in Gwadar is getting change from past, adding; many people are taking interest to invest in the city as their investment is giving good return due to sharp increase of the value of land.

He said the NOCs of all the investors who were violating the rules and regulations of GDA would be canceled, and they would not be able to start development work within the government-stipulated time frame.

He said the GDA was cooperating with investors and taking responsibility for providing municipal services in Gwadar City.

However, the development of housing schemes in the city is also causing problems for the citizens.

A resident of Gwadar Fazal Lashari said that a number of hilly mounds and rain drainage have been disappeared due to leveling of the land.

This developed land has been marked as private property schemes, he added.

Fazal said that the development work in Gwadar is at final stage, adding that everyone in the area is keen to obtain land.

Ghulam Mustafa a real state owner in Gwadar said that the GDA is creating problem in issuing of NOC for real estate investors.

Over the last year, he said the real estate prices in the area immediately surged due to infrastructure development projects being carried out as part of the CPEC.

The increasing prices have also revived the hopes of many other investors to invest in the Gwadar, he revealed.

Sharing the details of problems being faced in the area, he said that the shortage of water creates hurdles for the real estate development in Gwadar.

The developers and builders have to fetch it from Mirani Dam in Kech district, 200 kilometers from Gwadar, he added.

Samad Khan an investor alleged that some of GDA officials manipulate both land prices and allotment processes in order to benefit the people who entice them, he added.

Lamenting on the situation, Samad expressed sorrow that there are ambiguities and errors in land ownership records as the land settlement were done manually.

Beijing welcomes Riyadh in CPEC

Source: Express Tribune
By Mohammad Zafar
Published: October 11, 2018

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing has said China has no objection over inclusion of Saudi Arabia and other countries in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects and would welcome Riyadh’s investment in Pakistan.

“We will welcome Saudi Arabia and other countries’ investment in CPEC projects. China wants to expand CPEC up to central Asian states via Afghanistan,” the Chinese ambassador said while speaking to businessmen and journalists at two separate functions in Quetta on Wednesday.

Chinese ambassador also confirmed that CPEC projects are being revisited in view of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led new government’s vision, adding that new development projects will be included in the project with consensus.

Yao said reviewing the CPEC agreement is natural as the new Pakistani government which came into power after the July 25 general election has its own agenda and vision.

The envoy said the new Pakistani government wants to give all attention to socio-economic sector and in reviewing of CPEC agreement the desire of the Pakistan’s new government would be considered.

“Both China and Pakistan governments have agreed to further expand the CPEC,” he said, adding that taking decision with mutual understanding and consensus is part of the CPEC agreement.

He said both the governments have decided to continue work on ongoing projects launched under CPEC in Pakistan and particularly Balochistan and these projects would be completed on time.

Yao said Pakistan and China have very cordial relations since long; they are not only partners in CPEC but have lots of other ties and projects in which they are helping each other. “China and Pakistan are strategic partners,” he said.

He said that the main objectives of CPEC include establishing road-network, construction of highways and motorways, power generation and developing agriculture sector.

Yao Jing said in the next phase, China will focus on joint ventures and will give attention to socio-economic sector, which is also vision of the new Pakistani government.

“Under CPEC it was decided that more resources would be provided to the western provinces of Pakistan. It is our desire to link the mega project to Central Asian states via Afghanistan and under CPEC will open new ways of development and prosperity in the entire region,” he said.

The Chinese ambassador said CPEC has entered “a new era” and that jobs would be created for the people of Pakistan through its various projects. “Balochistan offers numerous opportunities to investors in terms of agriculture, livestock, mines and minerals,” he said.

At the chamber of commerce, businessmen urged the Chinese ambassador to establish a Chinese consulate in Quetta to address their business needs. The ambassador promised the business community that their request would be discussed with Chinese high-ups.

Responding to a question about Balochistan’s share in CPEC, Yao Jing said Balochistan is an important part of CPEC and the second phase of the project would be more important for Balochistan.

He said that though entire Pakistan is equal for his country, China wants to work for the development of different sectors of Balochistan on priority. “China will help in developing agriculture, industry and other sectors in Balochistan,” he said.

The envoy said he is very much inspired with the vision of new federal and Balochistan governments as they want to develop socio-economic sector. “Balochistan should be main beneficiary of CPEC. Chinese investors would find out new trade and investment opportunities in Balochistan,” he added.

Yao said Balochistan has great potential in mineral resources, mining, livestock, and fisheries and there is need to work for the promotion of these sectors. He said China will extend all help and assistance to the local people for sending fruit, vegetable and seafood to international market.

He said he had a meeting with Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal and observed that new provincial government is more interested in the development of the province and providing maximum facilities to its people.

To a question, he said the Chinese universities are open for Pakistani students and these universities offer scholarships in March every year and students could apply for admission online. However, he said, Balochistan students would be provided assistance in applying for admission to the Chinese universities.


Hard-working Pakistani students claim a large share of Chinese universities scholarships

For many young people in Pakistan, the friendship between China and Pakistan is not just a slogan but a true emotion, as rising ranks of Chinese universities and job opportunities provided by Chinese firms have brought more and more Pakistani youth to further their studies in China.

“They [Chinese] welcome Pakistani people as brothers and sisters. So for me, China is heaven. China is the second home for Pakistani people,” said Muhammad Furqan Rao, a Pakistani PhD candidate at School of Journalism and Communication, Tsinghua University, adding that he is quite satisfied with his study experience in Beijing.

Furqan noted to the Global Times that the rising ranks of Chinese universities, job opportunities offered by China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Belt and road (B&R) initiative, as well as a friendly studying environment provided by the Chinese government were big factors for him to study in the country.

Furqan is one of the many Pakistani students now seeking higher education in China. According to the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Beijing, the total number of Pakistani students studying in China reached 22,000 in 2017, making Pakistani students the third-largest group of overseas students in the country.

People’s Daily reported in May that currently 5,000 Pakistani students enjoy scholarships in China. It means that over 20 percent of Pakistani students studying in the country get a stipend.

Furqan said that in addition to scholarships, other alluring aspects are the improved reputation of Chinese universities, a friendly studying environment and a lower cost of living for Pakistani students in China.

According to the QS World University Rankings 2018, six Chinese universities are now in the Top 100, with three in the Top 50. Tsinghua University and Peking University are the Top 2 from China.

Pakistani PhD student at Peking University, Hamid Chohan, published six research articles on top international academic journals during his master’s degree program just to get into the distinguished Chinese university, under the Chinese Government Scholarship (CGS).

Pursuing a doctoral degree in Pure and Applied Mathematics at the School of Mathematical Sciences in Peking University, Hamid said 3,500 yuan ($541) per month, including accommodations, tuition fee and medical services are enough for his life in Beijing.

Chinese Scholarship Council provides me with an opportunity, good facilities and a reasonable amount of money. In return, I am doing serious research and working hard,” he said.

Hamid’s colleagues (Usman, Hu Lan and Fei) say that he is a smart and hardworking researcher. When the Global Times interviewed him, he was fasting for Ramadan and hardly sleeping at night in order to study and conduct research.

As a result, the 28-year-old from More Eminabad Gujranwala, a city of Punjab Province in Pakistan, took only 22 months to complete his doctoral program, which should have taken four years. This sort of hardworking spirit partially explains why Pakistanis receive a higher amount of Chinese scholarships every year.

Zamir Ahmed Awan, a Sinologist at the National University of Sciences and Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan, wrote on China Global Television Network that Pakistani students enjoy a good reputation in Chinese universities. “Their English language skills are very good and research approach excellent; the majority of them are obedient, well-mannered and approachable… hardworking and persistent are two of their qualities.”

There are also an increasing number of self-funded Pakistani students in China, which gives credit to the B&R initiative as well as CPEC.

“After the launch of CPEC, there are more business opportunities, more job opportunities and more international companies coming to Pakistan, especially Chinese companies. So if people are studying in Chinese universities, they will have a wider scope in their life,” Furqan said.

CPEC is a framework of regional connectivity which has improved power, transportation systems with frequent and free exchanges of growth and people-to-people contact. Now it has moved to the second phase and will soon start with the establishment of Special Economic Zones that will directly aid the Pakistan population.

Furqan said that, before the launch of CPEC, Pakistanis were not aware of China’s educational system. “They only came [to China] to do MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery). After 2013, Pakistani people from all walks of life and from all majors have been coming here,” he added.

Civil engineering, material sciences and environmental sciences are the most popular subjects among Pakistani students in China at present, said Furqan.

After the B&R initiative was proposed in 2013, a greater number of Chinese corporations moved to Pakistan under the new initiative. Hence, the demand for Pakistani talents who have both professional knowledge and proficient Chinese skills is rapidly increasing. Studying in China and claiming a Chinese university degree on the CV are huge pluses among HR directors.

The CPEC Portal reported in 2017 that the largest transportation project under the CPEC, the 392 kilometer-long Multan-Sukkur Section, would create 9,800 local jobs.

According to the Confucius Institute in Islamabad, Pakistan, the number of candidates who took HSK (Chinese Proficiency Test) was 3,600 in 2017, over eight times the number in 2012 (437 candidates). Hamid agrees that people who can speak Chinese and who have firsthand experience living in China will have a bigger advantage in terms of employment.

“Employers are well aware that a deep understanding of Chinese culture and its market is a big plus for those who want to become the world’s next generation of leaders,” Hamid said.

During his stay in the US, Furqan was asked frequently why Pakistani people love China more than America. He told them that China’s religious freedom and the mutual understanding of each other’s cultures are major reasons.

“Beijing is like my second home because we can find so many mosques here to pray and to perform our religious duties… America is conservative in this regard. A few friends are studying in America, and they have a beard. They are facing different kinds of problems because the [police] check them randomly while they are walking on the streets,” Furqan said.

“I read a piece of news in Western media that Muslims are restricted from fasting or preying like this in China, but there is nothing like that; there are no restrictions for Muslims to fast or perform their religious duties in China,” he exclaimed.

According to Pew Research Center, 84 percent of Pakistanis have a favorable view of China and 80 percent consider China a partner to their country.

Despite some people holding a hostile attitude toward the B&R initiative and CPEC, Furqan defends these joint projects, stressing that they are no threat to Pakistan.

Instead, he emphasized their strategic importance. “Because of these projects, our country’s security is being improved day by day. As Pakistanis, we see the B&R initiative and CPEC as good for the development of Pakistan and other regions as well,” he said.

He also hoped CPEC will open doors in the future to bring the two nations much closer with each other.

Furqan’s friend, Nishat Kazmi who is currently a Yenching scholar at Peking University, echoed this statement, saying “I think it represents another opportunity in the wake of anti-globalization sentiment being expressed in certain parts of the world. The B&R initiative presents an opening-up opportunity for the world, an opportunity to being committed to the idea of free, fair and mutually beneficial trade.”


‘CPEC is not a gift’: Professor Jia Yu at the CPEC 2018 Summit

Pakistan should not take CPEC for granted, writes Dr. Jia Yu. Both public and private sectors must take ownership of the opportunities.


The economic relations between the two countries have been phenomenal, especially since the turn of the century. Early economic cooperation was based on political and security interests, like Karakoram Highway, nuclear capability, arms trade etc. Also, it was focussed on energy and mining, but there is now a need for diversification. Pakistan has to take advantage of China’s rise on the global scene. There is a tendency towards having even better economic relations based on market forces and there is a lot of under-exploited potentials.

When it comes to win-win cooperation, of course, there is a lot at stake for both countries. Pakistan’s interests lie in promoting growth, private sector investment, employment, exports, technology and transfer of skills as well as in the relocation of Chinese firms. China’s interests lie in overseas production bases, new export markets, energy cooperation, and its need for production capacity relocation.

A successful execution of CPEC will ensure economic progress and stability for both the countries, particularly along the border region.

The two countries signed the FTA in 2006 which came into effect a year later. The FTAs play a major role in the general tendency of increasing trade. Surprisingly, the trade has been relatively low compared to the other neighbors (India, Vietnam, Philippines etc.). And there is a large and widening trade imbalance that needs to be worked on.

There has been a considerable increase in FDI since 2014 which is a positive sign for both China and Pakistan. The main FDI sectors by priority are: power, construction, financial services, and communication. There is, however, very little FDI in the light manufacturing sector.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a $900 billion investment, with finance channels targeting green development. It connects more than 60 countries, 60pc of the global population, 30pc of global GDP, and 35pc of global trade.

CPEC, a central link of BRI, cuts 10,000 miles of shipping by sea, and connects ports from Shanghai to Africa and Europe through Gwadar.


If things work out smoothly, Pakistan could use the FDI in its power and transport infrastructure and then in the manufacturing sector with the experience of leveraging SEZs to unlock this trio’s potential for rapid gains in job-rich industrialization. This can be done without unrealistic pre-requirements as the work to lay the foundations for industrialization has already begun.

The potentials are outlined below along with policy options needed to convert them into actions. At a regional level, Pakistan has been growing steadily in terms of GDP per capita since 2010, according to the World Bank. Investors are very keen to a growing economy. Consistent growth of purchasing power (GDP per capita) really matters for domestic consumption; therefore the growth rate must be maintained to catch up with competitors.

Pakistan is one of the world’s largest reservoirs of human capital and has a tremendous potential consumer base. In 2016, the country was home to 193,203,476 people, being the world’s 6th most populous country. World Economic Forum estimates that it will be among the top five populous countries in the world by 2060.

However, a large population is necessary but not sufficient to attract investors. The population has to be equipped with adequate skills to meet industrialization needs. An effort is also needed to attract global buyers.

Thirdly, China and Pakistan have long hailed each other as “all-weather friends”, or “iron brothers” as close as “lips and teeth” in the words of The Economist. There is already solid trust between the two countries, but the Pakistani officials need to visit China more often to convince the private investors for investment opportunities in Pakistan.

The CPEC will improve road, air, sea, and energy infrastructure. It will ensure land, sea and air security. It will enhance trade and investment facilitation and will establish free trade areas that meet high standards, maintain closer economic ties, and deepen political trust. Also, it will enhance cultural exchanges and promote mutual understanding, peace, and friendship between the people of the two countries.

Having said that, the CPEC should not be considered just a ‘gift’ from China, but the Pakistani government should also establish an FDI Advisory Board that shall promote the new image of the country. This includes visiting China more often and ensuring that investors understand the opportunities and benefits available under the CPEC.

Besides, according to the State Bank of Pakistan in November 2017, the country received net FDI worth $207 million out of which $206 million came from China. Potential investors pay significant attention to first movers, other Chinese investors may follow and eventually stay in Pakistan if the government helps the pioneers to be successful.

In terms of binding constraints, a study case of Malaysia estimates that FDI can effectively contribute to growth if it is at least 3.14pc of GDP. Pakistan should be able to compete. This requires overcoming the binding constraints by addressing security issues and risks, hard infrastructure challenges, especially SEZ-specific constraints like energy, roads to SEZs etc. Soft infrastructure challenges include corruption, rule of the law, coordination among institutions, inadequate capacity and cultural biases. Absorption capacity can be adjusted by setting yearly realistic targets of FDI amount.

There are six steps to identify the right industries, as narrated by Prof. Justin Lin. They include identifying countries with consistent growth, with GDP per capita three times as Pakistan’s or was at the same level as Pakistan 30 years ago.

Next comes investigating the existing private investment in those target industries and encourage its development by leasing the market regulations. Attracting global investors into the target industries which lack existing domestic private investment is the third step, followed by paying attention to new enterprises and supporting innovation in the target industries.

Establishing and developing SEZs to eliminate entering barriers, attracting foreign investment, and encouraging industrial cluster. And, finally, providing policy incentives for the first movers, including tax reduction, foreign exchange access, etc.


Development can start from ‘low-hanging fruit’ through SEZs. The government should attract first movers to invest and help the pioneers succeed.

CPEC should not be taken for granted. A proactive and systematic approach is needed for attracting investors, together with strong market factors.

Despite long-term and solid trust at the government level, more mutual dialogues and exchanges need to be enhanced in the private sector. Let the peoples get to understand each other.

CPEC and SEZs are open for all investors, including those from other countries beyond China.

The writer is a professor at the Institute of New Structural Economics (INSE), Peking University, China.



India refuses to endorse CPEC at SCO summit

India was the only country on Sunday not to endorse a high-profile Chinese project at the end of the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organisation SCO summit in Qingdao even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed that New Delhi’s priority was connectivity with the neighborhood and between the SCO countries.

All remaining seven members of the SCO summit bloc supported the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project which is part of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – a multi-billion inter-continental connectivity mission. The 17-page joint Qingdao declaration said all other seven member countries had endorsed the project and agreed to work towards implementing it. India was not expected to endorse the BRI in the Qingdao declaration which was released soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi speech at the plenary session.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is one of the flagship projects of the BRI. India has stayed away from the BRI – the only SCO country to be opposed to it – saying the CPEC violates its territorial integrity.

Earlier on Sunday, Prime Minister Modi said India supports connectivity projects that are inclusive, transparent and respect territorial sovereignty.

Speaking at the plenary session of the summit, Modi said India’s priority was connectivity with the neighborhood and between the SCO summit countries in the region. “We have again reached a stage where physical and digital connectivity is changing the definition of geography. Therefore, connectivity with our neighborhood and in the SCO region is our priority,” he said and emphasized the need for inclusiveness and transparency in connectivity projects to be successful.

Published in Daily Times, June 11th 2018.