NEW DELHI: China may be one of the first countries to emerge from Covid-19, but the pandemic promises to fundamentally change Beijings biggest geopolitical and geo-economic project— the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). Two new reports point to an ongoing recalibration of BRI, and specifically its flagship project — China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Andrew Small of German Marshall Fund (GMF) in his study says: “Even before the pandemic, CPEC had stalled. Not only are the figures commonly cited for the total package of projects under this framework since its launch in 2015 — which run as high as $62 billion — no longer accurate, investments of that magnitude are not under consideration either.” He quotes a Chinese official describing the downsizing of the CPEC vision from “rocks to peanuts”.
Another detailed report by Manoj Kewalramani and Agastya Bhatia in Takshashila Institution says China has, in response to the pandemic and global geopolitics, begun to “readjust its priorities” on BRI.
Small is careful to point out that CPEC is unlikely to prove to be a debt trap for Islamabad even if it isnt a game-changer for Pakistan. “The two sides have so far been more cautious on debt-financing than has been seen elsewhere on BRI,” he said.
Small tweeted: “Scored against the original objectives set by the Chinese and Pakistani governments, CPEC is a disappointment. It hasnt been a game-changer, and it has been years since anyone on the Chinese side seriously talked about it in such transformative terms.” That doesnt make CPEC a failure — its more modest, therefore more achievable, and more reflective of Pakistans economic situation than the earlier more ambitious one that may have been difficult to sustain.
Despite all the predictions about security threats, CPECs main challenges have been Pakistans problematic econRead More – Source