International Conference on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (ICCPEC)

THE CONCEPT

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is proclaimed as a ‘game changer’ for regional cooperation and Pakistan’s economy. Being a crucial part of a major development initiative led by China, known as ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR), to connect Asia with Europe and Africa, through Middle East, the CPEC is much linked to expectations, interests, mutual benefits as well as regional and global geopolitics. The initiative has been well-received in Pakistan and China and both countries regard the CPEC as a basis of potential interaction between their respective national development strategies. Both the countries share the belief that economic development can help stabilize and improve security situation and wellbeing and quality of life within restive regions of Pakistan and stabilize China’s western periphery regions, particularly the Xinjiang.

CPEC includes a series of infrastructure projects including transportation networks, such as, highways, air ports, Gwadar Deep Sea Port; energy projects, Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and agriculture. It is expected that infrastructure projects of CPEC will create enormous jobs, help bridge Pakistan’s power shortfall, create market niche, enhance trade, boost agro-economy and tourism. The projects, if implemented in an efficient and timely manner, will boost Pakistan’s role in global trading networks and augment Pakistan’s GDP growth rate. It is estimated that CPEC project will create some 700,000 direct jobs during the period 2015–2030 and add up to 2.5 % to the country's growth rate. It is high time to understand labour market needs and skills matching and discover employment opportunities for the people and youth of Pakistan.

Moreover, the CPEC projects will alter the urban dynamics and the spatial pattern of our cities impacting the socio-cultural aspects, entrepreneurship, environment and governance. Above all, CPEC can help realize Pakistan-Vision 2025 and the role of governance structure for achieving the goals and objectives stated in Vision 2025. A nuanced understanding of these dynamics will seek to address a range of issues such as strategic thinking, urban design, public consultation, environmental issues, policy recommendations, implementation and management to create sustainable urbanization by building smart new towns along the CPEC western, central and eastern roads or near the newly established SEZs.

For the CPEC to reach its full potential, there are security and political challenges in Pakistan created by hidden hand which may cause delays must be addressed through joint action by the both nations. At regional level, CPEC projects uniquely intersect numerous regional situations, including Kashmir dispute, the Afghanistan-Pakistan-China tripartite cooperation, Pakistan-India economic cooperation, Iran's inclusion in the deal, access to Markets of Central Asia, Russia’s interests in the Corridor, and Chinese foreign policy ambitions. At global level, CPEC, will open up different trade and connectivity channels between Pakistan and Europe and Africa through Middle East, thereby propelling the country’s significance to the global heights. An analysis of these geopolitical considerations with multiple competing political interests relating to CPEC will be relevant and useful as these considerations can influence future global policy adjustments particularly in South and South East Asia.