Pramit Pal Chaudhuri and Imtiaz Ahmad, Hindustan Times, Beijing/Delhi/Karachi|
Hindustan Times - Aug 30, 2015
Through September, working groups of Chinese and Pakistanis will
finalise 40-plus projects to launch the $46 billion China-Pakistan
Economic Corridor (CPEC). Both governments see this as more than just a
construction project. The corridor is designed to transform Pakistan’s
economy—and potentially China’s global status.
Already in the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar, the southern terminus of
the corridor, the Chinese have begun upgrading the harbour. So has the
expansion of the highway out of the port, a road that will run 3000
kilometres to the Chinese border town of Kashgar.
Much of the corridor’s initial expenditure is on power plants. Nearly
$34 billion of the corridor’s funds will go to energy projects, with
over half of this going to electricity production. When completed,
Pakistan’s national grid will receive 10,400 MW additional power.
Beijing’s logic is simple. As an ex-Chinese ambassador to Pakistan
explained, “Solving Pakistan’s power deficit is the first step to
stabilising its economy.” Pakistan struggles with rolling blackouts
thanks to an annual power deficit of about 5,000 MW. The contracts also
help Chinese makers of generators, solar cells and the like, all of
which suffer from huge overcapacity and need overseas buyers. Pakistan’s
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, publicly says before his term ends in
2018, power cuts will be a thing of the past.