How often does it happen that Chinese Embassy in Pakistan comes out to clarify news with respect to CPEC?
CPEC has been projected in Pakistan as a magic wand to resolve all the issues in that country as it would bring much needed foreign investment, business, and prosperity. Over 30 news channels of Pakistan have been assuring their audience that a golden age is just around the corner. In short, everyone in Pakistan media, military, politicians, non-state actors (Hafiz Saeed) are in love with CPEC. But few sane minds in Pakistan can see the wrongs done and are raising concerns regarding the economic viability of CPEC.
It is not recently that Pakistan has started showing signs of discomfort with the relationship with China on CPEC. Pakistan has a long history of opposing the CPEC. Chinese intentions with respect to CPEC were suspected previously also but muffled for reasons best known to deep state.
Unending CPEC controversies
Not very long ago, in 2014 the then PTI Chief and the current premier of Pakistan, Imran Khan’s sit-in had delayed the CPEC launching.
Pak government then balked at China’s intention to introduce the Yuan as legal tender in the Gwadar Port free zone. As per a Pakistan Government senior government official – Pakistan was not ready to allow the Chinese Yuan for free use in Gwadar or its treatment on a par with the US dollar in the country. He said the use of Yuan for common use in any part of Pakistan or exchangeable like dollar has to be on a reciprocal basis. Concerned over fluctuation of Pak currency, Chinese were unwilling to take the currency exchange risks that could come with the use of US dollar and the Pakistani rupee. Pakistan’s opposition to the use of Yuan came from its Ministry of Finance and the State Bank of Pakistan.
Quickly following on its heels, Islamabad said it will finance the Diamer-Bhasha dam itself, calling China’s offer to “construct, operate and maintain” the project unacceptable. The crowdfunding announced for the same is a proof of Pakistan’s helplessness.
Further, USD 3.5 billion Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) project was also unlikely to be cleared for inclusion in the CPEC at this stage because of some unsettled issues between the two countries.
Cultural invasion of Pakistan by China
This is another strong undercurrent flowing in Pakistan, tremors of which are felt occasionally. Culturally China and Pakistan differ from each other vastly. The article “Be Pakistani, Buy Chinese” published in Express Tribune, further exposed the sentiment embedded in the article which reflected the anti-Chinese undercurrent, which was seeping from the cracks for long is now seen surfacing slowly. The article ascertained the same and voiced out the concern of the majority of the Pakistani’s who have knowingly or unknowingly been swept away by the Chinese tsunami in Pakistan.
Small issues like pork-loving Chinese in Pakistan may turn powerful religious leaders into a “seize like situation”, witnessed in Pakistan a few days back. An increase in Chinese-Pakistani marriages, the presence of suspicious Chinese missionaries in Pakistan, Chinese outsourcing intelligentsia from Pakistan, Chinese goods flooding Pakistani markets, proposal to make Mandarin an official language have unnerved the Pakistani’s to a great extent.
Pak being isolated on terror grounds worries China
A top Chinese official has repeatedly expressed concerns over the global isolation of Pakistan on the grounds of terrorism, which could negatively impact the pace of the CPEC projects. Though they speak of mutual support and all-weather friendship, the skeletons in the cupboards reveal friends with benefits kind of relationship which is quite visible to the real world.
However, given all negatives, China is unlikely to give up on the CPEC so easily, as it is central to its geopolitical ambitions. Pakistan understands Chinese dilemma well and therefore making CPEC controversial it is sending signals to the Chinese government in order to extract as much from China. China presently looks comfortable with the thought of bailing out Pakistan with the help of the IMF as far as the economic viability of the project is concerned. This obsession is likely to cost China dearly in the near future. On the other hand, turning into an economic slave was by choice; however, it will be interesting to see that what seeps next into the cracking Pakistani democracy.
11 Dec 18/Tuesday. Written by Afsana