Some Pakistani lawmakers have ex-pressed concern that China may use the USD 46-billion economic corridor, that runs through the country’s restive Balochistan province, to enhance trade ties with India.
In a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Planning and Development, the lawmakers were of the view that China was investing in the China-Pakistan Econom-ic Corridor (CPEC) to explore new vistas of trade with different countries “right from neighbouring India to Central Asian states and Europe”, Dawn reported on Thursday.
One of the senators said with improved rail and road links with India through Mu-nabao in Rajasthan and Amritsar in Punjab under the CPEC, China would expand its trade not only with Central Asian states and European nations but also with India to eco-nomically strengthen its eight underdevel-oped provinces.
Chairman of the committee Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi endorsed the view. “Chi-na will definitely use the CPEC to expand trade with India because one who invests always watches one’s interests first,” he was quoted as saying in the report.
Mashhadi said China’s trade relations with India were far bigger than with Pakistan as China had inked USD 100 billion trade agreements with India last year. “Irrespec-tive of sour Pakistan-India relations, China will do trade with Indian through the CPEC,” Mashhadi said. The CPEC – a network of roads and railways – links western China to Gwadar Port in southern Pakistan, making it easier for Beijing to access the Arabian Sea for trade transit. China has built the port and also has its operational control.
India has expressed reservations over the ambitious CPEC project as it passes through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The CPEC – part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s One Belt-One Road initiative – is expected to give a boost to Pakistan’s dwin-dling economy. But experts are divided over security aspects for the project.