In our analysis of the China-Pakistan economic corridor, we have especially emphasized that Pakistan will soon be declared a Chinese colony. But, China has forced us to acknowledge our faults. We were wrong, China is not planning to capture only Pakistan. Instead, the Dragon is now trying to engulf more and more countries now. But, there won’t be any addition to the Pakistan section of dilapidated BRI.
India’s strong stand on CPEC
India has taken a strict stand on the Chinese attempt to expand the horizon of dying CPEC projects. Ministry of External Affairs has made it explicitly clear that any attempt to include other countries in the region will be considered an infringement on India’s sovereignty and territory. Though in its statement, Ministry did not state it, but both China and Pakistan know what it means to tinker with the territorial sovereignty of India. Firstly, Pakistan learnt it the hard way in surgical and air strikes and then China learnt it in Galwan.
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) July 26, 2022
Calling a spade a spade, India said that activities are illegitimate, illegal, and unacceptable. Arindam Bagchi, MEA spokesperson said, “We have seen reports on encouraging proposed participation of third countries in so-called CPEC projects. Any such actions by any party directly infringe on India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. India firmly and consistently opposes projects in the so-called CPEC, which are in Indian territory that has been illegally occupied by Pakistan. Such activities are inherently illegal, illegitimate and unacceptable, and will be treated accordingly by India.”
— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) July 26, 2022
China and Pakistan’s CPEC is dying
In recent few months, Pakistan and China have become desperate for their CPEC initiative. On its part, China has been facing hurdles right from the time this project was announced. Baloch liberation army has not given Chinese nationals a moment to relax. They have specifically targeted Chinese nationals involved in the project. The situation got so bad that China has asked Pakistan to allow its security personnel installed in the terrorist nation.
On the other hand, the project has become too much economically and even politically expensive for Pakistan. The country is in a state of stagflation. It has an extremely high unemployment rate coupled with historically high levels of inflation. Add to that anxiety caused in the Pakistani administrative circle due to Sri Lankan economic crisis. The situation is similar in Pakistan.
China and Pakistan want other countries to participate in CPEC
Just like Sri Lanka was struck by the Chinese debt trap, Pakistan is also facing similar circumstances. Recently, China even threatened to disrupt the power supply as well. Moreover, Imran Khan, a person believed to be pro-China is out of power. Americans are trying to regain their grip on Pakistan. It was natural for China to be neurotic and it is giving hastened response to the looming crisis. It is desperate to take out returns from its investments in Pakistan.
Recently, the 3rd meeting of the CPEC Joint Working Group (JWG) on International Cooperation and Coordination (JWG-ICC) was held in virtual mode. During the meeting, Sohail Mahmood, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary, and Wu Jianghao, China’s Assistant Foreign Minister expressed their desire to expand the geographical ambit of the project. Both countries believe that in spite of the predatory nature of the project, a third country would be willing to participate in it. They termed the project, and here is the funny part, “open and inclusive platform”.
Mockery of reality
For once, we do agree with the assessment that CPEC is an open project. After all, if your investment is going down the gutter, you have to liberalize rules, opening the gates for willing stakeholders to pump more money. But, terming it as an “inclusive” project is a mockery of the fundamental purpose of existence of both China and Pakistan.
Both nations are anything but inclusive. Minorities are on the verge of extinction in both China and Pakistan. It does not happen in an “inclusive” polity. The phenomenon has been transferred to CPEC as well. Both China and Pakistan are fighting for “exclusive rights” over the $60 billion CPEC project. How can they even term it inclusive?
The plan won’t succeed
But, every country in the region is aware of the threat. Every government is watching what is transpiring in Sri Lanka. There is a reason why Nepal is increasing its cooperation with India and the United States, two pillars of QUAD. Similar is the case with other countries as well. Taking China’s side on any issue means inviting “pariah” status in geopolitics.
Even Pakistan is ditching China and constantly favouring the United States of America. They shouldn’t even think about a 3rd country participating in CPEC.
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