Beijing, Sept 13: The Chi-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is unlikely to be “plain sailing” for both countries and they should brace themselves for “potential setbacks”, a Chinese daily said on Tuesday. An op-ed in the Global Times said the rising cost of protecting Chinese workers on the $46 billion project in Pakistan was “becoming (a) big problem in efficiently pushing forward the projects”. The state-run daily also suggested that Chi should shift its focus from the region to Southeast Asia as “it would be unwise to put all its eggs in one basket”. The write-up came in the wake of Indian media reports saying some 15,000 Pakistani soldiers were guarding about 7,000 Chinese working on the CPEC in the face of growing number of attacks on the project.
“The CPEC has long been seen as symbolic of Sino-Pakistan economic cooperation. It is unlikely that Chi will change its supportive attitude on the CPEC in the short term, but the increasing cost of security is becoming a big problem in efficiently pushing forward the projects,” the Times said. The proposed CPEC, which will connect Chi’s largest province Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Balochistan, is key to Beijing’s ambitious One Road One Belt project. The CPEC passes through Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistani Kashmir — claimed by India — and Balochistan, home to a long-running insurgency.
“It is unlikely to be plain sailing for Chi and Pakistan in their attempts to push forward the CPEC due to challenges such as a complex regiol environment, and people in the two countries should be prepared for potential setbacks,” the daily said. It warned that Beijing and Islamabad should be ready to cope “ethnic conflicts and confrontations that may arise in restive Balochistan. “This does not mean that Chi should give up on the idea of the CPEC because of the present challenges. (IANS)