China-Pakistan Current Affairs

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China hands over two ships to Pakistan Navy for Gwadar Port security

China has handed over two ships to the Pakistan to safeguard the strategic Gwadar port and trade routes under the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

These ships have been named as Hingol and Basol, after two rivers near Gwadar. They will be part of Pakistan Navy and are equipped with state-of-the-art guns. They will be used to protect the sea-lanes in the Arabian Sea.

Besides, China will also provide two more ships to Pakistan Navy which have been named Zhob and Dasht after two districts in Balochistan.

Background

In recent times, China has actively started extending its help and cooperation to Pakistan for security along the $46 billion CPEC’s land and sea routes. As a follow up, Pakistan Army already has raised a new division of the army to ensure security along the CPEC route and around the strategic Gwadar port. The security of Gwadar city also has been handed over to the Pakistan Army’s new division raised during the tenure of former army chief Gen Raheel Sharif. In the past, China restrained itself from deploying its naval ships in Gwadar, as it could had raise alarm in US and India.

Gwadar port

The strategic Gwadar port is located in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province. It has been developed under CPEC which link western China through Pakistan with the Middle East, Africa and Europe.  The revamped port became operational in November 2016 after two cargo ships laden with containers set off for Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the UAE and European Union.

For more information: China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

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CPEC becomes reality as Pakistan inaugurates Gwadar port

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inaugurated the operational activities of the revamped strategic Gwadar port in the south-western Balochistan Province.

With the operationalisation of the deep sea port, the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), linking western China to the Arabian Sea became a reality.

Key Facts

  • The port was operationalised after a Chinese commercial ship laden with around 250 containers set off for West Asia and Africa.
  • The ship was carrying Chinese goods which were ferried by major trade convoy that started from Kashgar in western China on 30 October 2016 reached Gwadar on 12 November 2016.
  • It was considered as watershed moment in the history of Pakistan and symbol of Pakistan’s commitment to China’s ‘One Belt-One Road’ (OBOR) initiative, of which CPEC is a key port.
  • Benefits to Pakistan: China’s OBOR initiative integrates with Pakistan’s Vision 2025 which seeks to transform the country into a hub of trade and commerce. The CPEC would ultimately integrate South Asia, China and Central Asia.
  • India’s concern: The CPEC is being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

For more information: (i) CPEC (ii) CPEC Analysis

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China, Pakistan ink agreement to launch satellite to monitor CPEC projects

China and Pakistan have signed an agreement for the launch of a special satellite to monitor the development of the multi-billion dollars China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

In this regard, both countries have decided for development and launch of the Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite (PRSS-1) System and launch a satellite in June 2018.

Implications

  • This agreement will also transfer space technology to Pakistan as the PRSS-1 is considered as yet another flagship project between China-Pakistan after CPEC.
  • It would also help Pakistan in its national security arena by strengthening surveillance apparatus and border security.

Comment

This bilateral cooperation in space domain would open new arena of socio-economic and scientific cooperation and would give boost to the historic bilateral cordial relations in other fields between all-weather friends.

About China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Project

  • CPEC refers to a clutch of major infrastructure projects currently under way in Pakistan. The corridor is mainly consists of road, rail and power projects.
  • It is intended to link Kashgar in Xinjiang province of China to Gwadar deep sea port close to Pakistan’s border with Iran.
  • China’s Gain: The CPEC is part of China’s regional transnational ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) initiative that connects large patch of Asia and Eastern Europe.
  • Gwadar Port is strategically located and lies close to the Strait of Hormuz (near Iran), a key international oil shipping lane.
  • It could open up an energy and trade corridor from the Gulf region across Pakistan to western China and also could be used by the Chinese Navy for military purpose.
  • The CPEC will give China land access to the Indian Ocean, cutting the nearly 13,000 km sea voyage through the Strait of Malacca (major chokepoint) and around India to 2,000 km road journey from Gwadar to Kashgar.
  • The development of Kashgar as a trade terminus will reduce isolation of the underdeveloped Xinjiang province and deepen its engagement with the rest of China.
  • Land locked energy rich Central Asian countries are keen to plug their infrastructure networks to the CPEC.
  • It will allow Central Asian countries access to the Indian Ocean, while contributing to the OBOR initiative.
  • Pakistan’s Gain: The project seeks to upgrade and expand infrastructure across the length and breadth of Pakistan and deepen economic ties between both countries.
  • The CPEC theoretically can be a gamechanger for Pakistan as it has potential to boost economic scenario at a time when terrorism has severely affected it.
  • Pakistan also expects the CPEC will bind it closer with close friend China, giving it greater strategic leverage with both United States and India in the Indian Ocean region.
  • India’s Concern: India has already objected to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor as it passes through the Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). This corridor may also impact the security of the nation.
  • But experts believe that India has no worry over the construction of CPEC as an economically strong Pakistan would bring stability in the region.

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