CPEC Monthly Monitor – November 2017
Amid all the delays, work on existing CPEC projects continued while new ones were announced. This much seems to be a regular occurrence now. What was new in recent time was that at the end of the day, finalizing the details of CPEC project is about negotiating the terms. There is considerable room for Pakistan in this regard. If this room is properly used, any speculations about CPEC will also be put to rest.
Government’s position on handling the CPEC brims with optimism. Prime Minister Abbasi ascertained that concerns of two provincial governments (Sindh and KP) will be addressed too. The outcome of CPEC continued drawing positive projections.
These were some of the key developments occurring in November 2017. The findings have been shared in CPEC monthly monitor, released by CPEC Watch, an initiative of Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based think tank.
Every month, CPEC Watch releases a monthly monitor summarizing key development occurring around China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Below are the salient ones for November 2017:
- The 7th Joint Cooperation Council (JCC) meeting on CPEC was held in Islamabad between 21 and 22 November. Pakistan’s focal person from the JCC, Minister of Planning, Reforms, and Development, had assured that the Long-Term Plan of the CPEC will be finalized in the meeting and afterwards shared with public.
- Yet, while the LTP is reported to have been finalized, it has not been publicized. Hence, all sorts of speculations have risen once again. Analysts are at loss understanding why the government is so secretive about the project.
- A project that drew attention this month was Gwadar port, a key CPEC project. The Prime Minister vowed to turn the port town into a “major trade hub.” The details of its execution drew some apprehension: It was reported that Pakistan will get 9% of the revenue from the port, and China, 91%, for the next forty years. The real issue is lack of clarification.
- Questions are asked by business community in some parts of the country – KP, Multan, and Karachi, to an extent – as to what are the terms of engagement of Chinese investors, and whether they (Pakistanis business community) will be accorded same response.
- Meanwhile, projects also saw progress. The first unit of 1320 megawatt Port Qasim coal-fired power plant was inaugurated in Karachi. Four out of six CPEC projects have been completed in Balochistan. Referring to the development of SEZs, China agreed to finance 3 SEZ, one each in Punjab, Sindh, and KP.
- Internal and external security to CPEC made news too. To secure CPEC projects, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) has ordered the “large scale military operations” in Balochistan.
- On the geo-strategic front, Pakistan’s Foreign Office underlined that it does not consider the coalition of India, Afghanistan and Iran trading through Chabahar port, as a counter to Pakistan and CPEC. To China, Pakistan remained a “priority in its neighborhood diplomacy”.
- Meanwhile, Japanese Ambassador to Pakistan appreciated CPEC and showed interest to help in furthering this mega project.