The China – Pakistan Rail link, right now this is a proposed and highly controversial project, it would connect Pakistan Northwestern province with China’s western Xinxiang region, cutting through some of the most mountainous and treacherous terrain in the world, including the Khunjurab pass which is cloaked in snow for much of the winter.The route would be highly expensive and technically difficult, but would make the transportation of goods and people between the two nations much more straightforward and far less expensive.
The USD 2 billion Thar coal fired power station is probably the key energy project in CPEC. China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC) is set to lead the construction of this project and the ignite coal which will power the plant comes from the region, the plant expected to come on line in a couple of years’ time. This deal and several other hydro and coal projects are expected to help make good the shortfall in energy supplies across Pakistan.
A motorway connecting Karachi to Peshawar would transform transportation in the country. This new route would connect the financial and commercial capital on the coast of the Arabian Sea with Peshawar in the North West Frontier Province in the far north of the country. A well-made road with capacity for large amounts of traffic will boost commerce as goods are easier, cheaper and quicker to move. Work is well underway on this particular project and parts of the route such as the Sukkur – Multan section are already complete.
Karachi has developed into one of the world’s biggest cities with a population of around 24 million, like many other South Asian metropolises it faces problems such as widespread violence, overcrowding and pollution,. The revival and successful implementation of an old idea namely a rail line to loop around Karachi will help at least with the issues of overcrowding and pollution. China has agreed in principle to assist with the funding of this project, which looks increasingly vital as the city’s population is projected to grow to 30 million by 2030.
Gwadar Port is another major project backed by the Chinese, as well as the the development of a strategically positioned port which will be a major staging post for trade (and perhaps Chinese naval vessels). The Chinese are also backing a new international airport, the development of new city to service the port, as well as host of other smaller projects. All of which will help transform a tiny port in the corner of Pakistan into a major metropolis with ambitions of becoming the next Dubai.
Next I look at the risks faced by CPEC.
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