17 Apr


In coming years, CPEC, the mega land and sea project, will radically change the overall geo-political and strategic landscape of Asia and has enormous potential to reshape the economic outlook of the regional states. It is expected that millions of people of the region will get benefit from this CPEC corridor as the project has the magnitude to boost economic activities, increase trade linkages, boost technical cooperation, generate new financial opportunities, and amplify socio- cultural connectivity among people in the region. The implementation of this inclusive project would bring economic revolution that can transform the destiny of the regional states in a positive way. This way CPEC has a greater regional and economic value as it would provide opportunity to all regional actors to make South Asia a prime integrated region. Although there exist many advantages for enhancing economic collaboration and establishing regional interconnection, to put the idea of CPEC into reality is still facing some challenges. The divergent and conflicting interests of some regional and extra-regional actors are threat to the construction and success of CPEC. Since the proclamation of CPEC, the regional scenario has already started to change as many countries have begun to seethe project with critical eyes and as a thread to their interest, which can hamper the peaceful completion of the project.


  • For an inland(landlocked) country like Afghanistan CPEC is of essential importance in geo-strategic sight. With the addition of CPEC to Afghanistan, the country can become a major beneficiary of this project as in future the corridor will grant to the economic development of this brittle country by enhancing economic activities in the area, which can bring the fragile economy of Afghanistan back to normalcy.
  • For it, Islamabad plight to construct 265 km long Peshawar to Kabul motorway in order to link up Afghanistan with CPEC. This connection will integrate Afghanistan with other regions and also allow her to start commercial activities through Indian Ocean.
  • The western alignment of the corridor, which originates from Gwadar and runs through Khuzdar, Zhob and finally reaches Islamabad via D.I. Khan, will have an additional connectivity to link Afghanistan through Chaman. This route will provide an easy and short access to Afghanistan to reach to the sea port of Gwadar which is almost 600 kilometer shorter than the existing transit path being used by the traders and people of Afghanistan. Likewise, the eastern sequence of the corridor which will pass through the motorways starting from Karachi to Lahore and towards to Islamabad and Abbottabad, will also enhance road connectivity between both countries.
  • So both sequence will further link Afghanistan and Pakistan through boost roads and motorways. Once the network of motorways is completed, it will not only facilitate and vitalize trade but will immensely help in reducing distance and travelling time between the two neighbors. This way, Afghanistan will be in position to benefit from the rising economic opportunities as a result of development of the corridor.

Central Asian Republics (CARs)

  • The Central Asian States are situated in the heart of Eurasia, which presents exclusive benefit as key transport passage. Due to their essential geo-strategic location and their abundance in oil and natural gas resources with major reservoirs in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan, all regional and international states - including Pakistan and China - are desirous to get into closer interaction with these states. For CARs, all of the five landlocked countries wish to get access to the sea and diversification of energy channel which CPEC project can fulfill.
  • The project can also help in bringing immense opportunities for the CARs in the economic fields. For the transportation of their natural energy resources, CARs can be eased with transit trade and pipeline routes by Pakistan; and their commodities can be smoothly exported to Middle East and European states via Gwadar Port. In addition, these energy rich states of Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan have a fine chance to come out from Russian control and export their natural resources through CPEC.
  • Further to this, Central Asian countries, mostly Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, attach substantial importance to the transport infrastructure, the lack of which remains a chief barrier for their slow cooperation with the international markets; however, CPEC will relatively control the issue. If the China-Pakistan railway is finalized, Tajikistan could access to the Indian Ocean directly through linking with it.
  • Tajikistan seems desirous to participate in CPEC and Ambassador Sherali S.Jononov said, "The Central Asian States fully support CPEC project. It will narrow down the distance among the regional countries through road and rail links for their socio-economic uplift. This project is of our common benefit. "The Kazakh regime has also showed its deep delight to become part of CPEC project and has offered for an alternative access route to the sea; whereas, Pakistan has already planned to be connected with Central Asia via Termez -the southern city of Uzbekistan. Once the project is completed, the landlocked CARS can greatly benefit from an access route to the world market through CPEC. 


  • Initially, the corridor faced resistance from Iran who perceived it to be a competition and is working with India to develop its port of Chabahar. However, recently in September 2015, Iran has considered options of participation in CPEC, the aim being to improve connectivity through road and railway networks to expand the scope of trade and transportation. Good news for Iran is that as part of CPEC, China and Pakistan will built the liquid natural gas (LNG) finishing at Gwadar and the 700 km long pipelines to import LNG from China which can become the Iran-Pakistan pipeline as well.
  • All that Pakistan has to do now is to link Gwadar with the Iranian border, which is a distance of some 80 kms. The proposed Iran-Pakistan pipeline will then run from Asaluyeh in Iran to the Pakistani port of Gwadar, which is the nerve centre of CPEC and from there onward to Nawab shah in Sindh to the north of Karachi. This way Pakistan can become the transit country for an Iranian mega gas pipeline leading to China. It would also be the shortest route connecting China with Iran's tremendous gas fields.
  • At present, the three-sided of Pakistan-China-Iran' in the region is enhancing which is a positive sign for CPEC as it promises huge benefits in inter-regional trade.

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

  • Additional country that seems unhappy with the plan of CPEC is UAE. It is a fact that ports play crucial role in economy of UAE; and once Gwadar port becomes fully operational it will directly affect Dubai port, which can no longer have some 70% of its business.
  • Moreover, recently the relations between Pakistan and the UAE have been affected by the former's refusal to send forces to fight along UAE and Saudi-Arabia with Houthi rebels in Yemen.
  • These factors remind UAE to search for new strategic partners to work against Pakistan. India seems to be an prominent option. However, UAE should understand the ground realities which indicate that the drawback of CPEC and Gwadar for UAE are not for longer period.
  • In future, if UAE makes financial investment in real estate and construction in Gwadar, it can generate large profit for UAE. But lining up with India to stop the construction of CPEC, will sever UAE's relations with Pakistan. 


  • CPEC which is still a bilateral initiative between Pakistan and China has increased Indian mania, creating some sovereignty concerns for India as the corridor can counter its hegemonic designs in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf.
  • In addition, CPEC will have a direct land route access to the CARs with Afghanistan and Iran that India does not have. Moreover, while China is one of India's largest trading partners, India may have long-term security concerns about Chinese control of the Pakistani seaport of Gwadar.
  • “For India, CPEC means that China shall have the chance in the Arabian Sea as it will have complete control over the Strait of Hormuz via Gwadar's seaport. This will likely have unpleasant effects on India's trade route." Thus the helix tactical relationship between the two countries in the form of CPEC a major study for India – the preeminent power of South Asia, which is visibly upset over the plan of CPEC and has explicitly voiced its opposition.
  • Even Indian PM Modi during his visit to China tried to propose the Chinese President to drop the plan of the corridor as India found the very idea, "unacceptable"; however, China is determined to move ahead with the project.
  • This impelled India not to lag behind and to discover new strategic partners around to balance its political rivalry with the two countries:
  • First one in this regard is Indo-Iranian Nexus. A chief capability taken by India to curtail the value of CPEC route is to build Chabahar port in the southeast of Iranian land, located 72 km west of Pakistan's Gwadar port. 
  • Now as the international sanctions against Iran are over, the cooperation between Iran and India has visibly increased. Both countries have signed MoU for increasing bilateral trade to $30 billion and an air-services agreement was inked to increase the number of flights between the two nations and allowing each other's airlines to fly to additional destinations. schemes are taking place for substantial maritime cooperation, and Iran has already unite the annual Indian Ocean Naval debate, which provides a forum for the navies of the Indian Ocean coastal states to engage each other.
  • Most significantly, "the Modi government has decided to invest $85.21 million in developing the strategically important Chabahar port in Iran, allowing India to circumvent Pakistan and open up a route to inland (landlock) Afghanistan where it has developed close security bind and economic interests. "India has financed and constructed link roads to establish this seaport which holds gigantic strategic significance for India as its presence in Chabahar will counter balance Chinese presence in Gwadar, and it will also get access to landlocked CARs through this port.
  • Another development which made India vary is Chinas increasing role in Afghanistan as its funding a range of projects for reconstruction in the country. India which has financed in Afghanistan, and is eager to play an important role there, is now adopting political and unconventional strategies to hinder the development of the corridor.
  • However, CPEC can open up trade doors for both Afghanistan and India. The geographical position of Pakistan makes it costly for both India and Afghanistan to take up other directions for bilateral trade. "The alternate passage for Indo-Afghan transport trade can be carried out via Iranian Chabahar Port. However; that land-sea route would not be cost-effective much as contrast to the land-based path through Pakistan." Thus, due to this geographical constraint, at present India needs to soften its rigidness and to let Afghanistan get the benefits of CPEC.
  • In its efforts to counter CPEC, India has also turned to the UAE which appears to become its new strategic partner in the region.
  • During Modi's visit in mid-August, India and the UAE were able to establish an infrastructure investment fund, with the aim of reaching the target of $75billion, to support investments in the rapid expansion of next-generation infrastructure in India, especially railways, ports, roads, airports, industrial corridors and parks. Also, they agreed to facilitate the participation of Indian companies in infrastructure development in the UAE and promote strategic partnership in the energy sector.
  • Furthermore, India does not seem pleased with the handing over of Gwadar Port to China due its security concerns; therefore, there is possibility that "India-UAE nexus will attempt to fail the Gwadar Port development project and create obstructions in the way of exploration activities in the resource rich province of Baluchistan by fueling insurgency in the same."

The United States

  • Unlike the commonly held insight, the most powerful world power, the US has not against CPEC so far; instead US State Department has made encouraging statements regarding the project and wished that CPEC will become multilateral eventually.
  • A US State Department official said:
  • The plan of corridor is one we very much support and is aligned with a share division of regional economic connectivity. Fundamentally, we hope that in the end it will not only be Pakistan and China. We hope eventually that will include other neighbors as well, particularly Afghanistan, where we and the Chinese are also making common efforts.
  • Although CPEC has not faced any resistance from the US, yet in the long run it cannot remain fully unconcerned with the strategic implications of CPEC as the proposed corridor may have crucial geostrategic and political effects for US policy and scrutiny in the region.
  • With the changing geo-politics, it seems that the US influence may recede notably from this region at least in the short run as it is apparently providing the opportunity to China to act as a balancer in the region mainly due to the exacerbate of its relations with Russia.
  • By encouraging Sino-Pak economic ties, the US can use their increasing economic reliance to address some key concerns in the region with the help of China, such as the menace of terrorism and extremism.
  • Nonetheless, one must not ignore the rules of this game of international politics where nations have interests, and those interests transform with the changing geo-political realities. In the long run, there is chance that the US may view the corridor as "zero sum game" with China and then the delight of both powers may crash eventually.
  • Thus the construction of CPEC may face some opposition from the US as the influence of China in the region and its strategic access to Arabian Sea may not be acceptable to the US. Moreover the Gwadar seaport, which may be used as a Chinese naval base, has important geostrategic implications for US in the region. "The US had apparently made strive in vain to convince Pakistan against handing over the guidance of Gwadar port to China."
  • CPEC may also challenge US interests in asset well off region of the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, and in CARs. In the end, the US may be working on strategies to deal with the expansion of China in the region; for example, it has also given its own form of the New Silk Road Project seeking to enlarge its control in rapidly growing Central and East Asian regions.
  • However, if it could settle down with the idea of China to play a primary role in Asia, the US can manage to safeguard some of its foreign policy interests including its policy to remove terrorism and its human rights efforts.


The multidimensional CPEC project is financially beautiful plan that can serve as abridge to link up the whole Asian region together to make it integrated and collaborative in the Asian Century. However, whereas CPEC has led to spread fresh lines for coordination in which regional actors can get the chance of capitalizing their economic interests via this mega project, on the other side, it has also increased the likelihood of fight between the interests of various regional actors. Growing Indian bonhomie with the US, the budding US-Iran relations after the nuclear deal, the rising Indo-Iranian partnership, and Indian sways in Afghanistan maybe reasons for concern for both Pakistan and China. At present, it is visible that regional alliances are going through some rapid changes; and with this changing scenario, both countries need to understand this circumstances and form policies accordingly to keep their house in order. Both should be well resourced to respond to the appear geo-political dynamics of Asia and act in agreement with what best serves their mutual interest especially in the prospects of this corridor.

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