BRI and CPEC: propaganda and reality
By Ali Ramay
February 1, 2024 11:50 PM
From Western media and their propaganda, in our society, there is still a prevailing perception that China, through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is gaining control over countries by creating new blocks where capital investment is taking place. This perspective is also commonly associated with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under the BRI, suggesting that CPEC is strengthening China's strategic power in Pakistan, making the country economically dependent on China. Just a few days ago, during a gathering with some friends, those who are actively involved in businesses in Lahore asked me about my recent visit to China. While I shared interesting experiences about my trip, the conversation shifted towards the CPEC projects.
My friends, who are directly engaged in businesses in Lahore, were initially pleased to hear about my insights into China. However, the discussion took an unexpected turn when we delved into the topic of CPEC. Sharing opinions and some unknown information, my friends expressed concerns based on their analysis, which was partly shaped by my past perspectives. However, after obtaining detailed information from the Belt and Road Initiative and gaining insights during my recent trip to China, my viewpoint had evolved.
During my stay in China, I had the privilege of attending a lecture on BRI during my visit to Beijing, later, a three-day event of the Belt and Road Initiative, organized by the Government of China, where I gathered extensive information about the BRI and Prime Minister OF Pakistan Mr.Anwaar Ul Haqq Kakar also Participated in this mega event...
Participating in this significant event (BRI) in Beijing was an honor for my journalistic career. Before the three-day event, a lecture on the BRI was delivered, initiating my exploration into BRI-related knowledge. Professor Dr. Wang Yiwei, Chair Professor/Director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University of China, was selected to provide a comprehensive lecture on BRI. Professor Wang Yiwei is renowned for his profound understanding of BRI. He shared detailed information about the historical roots of BRI, providing invaluable insights into past developments.
During the lecture, Professor Wang shared information that was entirely new to me. He shed light on the Chinese perspective, stating that if one wants to be rich, one should build roads first. If they want to be wealthy, they should construct highways. And if they aspire for prosperity and wealth, they should build internet highways. This succinctly encapsulates the Chinese mindset, demonstrating their commitment to infrastructure development. Professor Wang also quoted Confucius, emphasizing the importance of helping others succeed to achieve personal success.
The lecture about 10 years of BRI, made it clear that BRI is not just about infrastructure but a transformative force. BRI, through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), has led to significant improvements in infrastructure, including roads, railways, transportation, and energy projects, creating vast employment opportunities and contributing to economic development in Pakistan.
According to the official data, China is investing $65 billion in various projects in Pakistan under CPEC, focusing on road construction, agriculture, electricity, and water projects. The collaboration has already yielded positive results, with completed projects across the country. Notable achievements include 17,045 megawatts of electricity generation, upgraded railway and road networks, new optical fiber connections, improved ports including Gwadar, and the implementation of large-scale transit schemes in major cities.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Mr. Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, participated in the BRI Forum last year, where he highlighted the completion of 50 projects worth $20 billion under CPEC. These projects have generated over 200,000 jobs, and over 1,400 kilometers of roads have been built. Moreover, the addition of thousands of megawatts of electricity to the grid has significantly reduced power shortages across the country.
From the information shared with us about BRI during the lecture in Beijing and after attending various sessions of the BRI Forum, I have concluded that this vast project of China is not only for their own country, and the range of interests is not limited but also includes the interests of all the countries that are part of this initiative. Every person may have their own opinion as to how they see this initiative but I have found this project to be a project of people's development along with the development of the countries. If we talk about the development of the countries and the results obtained from this project, then the heads of the countries and the analysts who came there would mention the aspects of negative thinking about this project.
In conclusion, BRI, specifically through CPEC, is proving to be a game-changer not only for Pakistan but also for other countries involved. It signifies more than just a collection of projects, it represents a transformative power that fosters economic growth, cultural exchanges, and mutual prosperity. The results speak for themselves, showcasing the positive impact of CPEC on Pakistan's economic and infrastructural landscape.
People in Pakistan who share opinions similar to my friends still exist. They believe that China is investing in Pakistan and other countries through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for its own interests. China is providing capital, but in return, it puts these countries, including Pakistan, in difficult situations by offering loans. To explain this, let's consider a simple example. If someone takes a loan from a private bank in Pakistan for business, home construction, or any other purpose, there are conditions attached to that loan. The private bank won't provide a loan without terms and interest. However, if you successfully achieve your goals with that loan, both you and the lender benefit.
Likewise, if China is providing loans and creating investment opportunities, this way, Pakistan can gain maximum benefit from the situation, resulting in positive outcomes for the economy. The Belt and Road Initiative project initiated by China is not just for China's benefit. it benefits all the countries involved. During the Belt and Road Initiative Forum in 2023, Chinese President Mr. Xi made it clear that the development of nations is associated with the progress of their people. Therefore, if China is aiding in the progress of countries, it is ultimately contributing to the well-being of the people in those nations….
BRI is not a debt trap, Said Mr. Wang, Such narratives by the Western media are not only biased but also short-sighteds. BRI is not a unilateral effort by China. Rather, it is a collaborative initiative involving countries around the world.