[op-ed snap] Responding to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor challenge

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Suggestions and Concerns discussed in the newscard; regarding the CPEC, security issues, etc.


News

Context

  1. The article talks about some important concerns of India related to the CPEC and suggests some possible solutions

Construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dam

  1. Pakistan has reportedly rejected China’s offer of assistance for the $14 billion Diamer-Bhasha Dam
  2. Pakistan’s demand: Pakistan wants Beijing to take the project out of the $60 billion CPEC so that Pakistan can build the dam on its own
  3. Why: Because the project was in a disputed territory, the Asian Development Bank had refused to finance it
  4. So China was keen to step in but Pakistan realized that the tough conditions being imposed by Beijing, the dam would make the project politically and economically untenable

Controversy over use of Yuan in Pakistan

  1. The dam project was followed by differences on the use of the Chinese yuan in Pakistan along the lines of the US dollar
  2. Pakistan had to reject this demand as well
  3. Pakistan’s demand: common use of the yuan in any part of Pakistan, exchangeable like the dollar, has to be on a reciprocal basis

Some important issues related to the CPEC

  1. China is demanding greater autonomy and security in operationalizing the project and Pakistan is finding it difficult to accede to most of these demands
  2. There are growing voices in Pakistan that China seems to be a bigger beneficiary from CPEC than Pakistan
  3. China’s strategy of getting more benefit: China is saying that Pakistan is not producing the goods that are needed in China
  4. This has reinforced the perception that all China wants is to use the infrastructural advancement of CPEC for the benefit of Chinese companies

India’s take on One Belt and Road Initiative

  1. India so far has steadfastly refused to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative
  2. And maintains opposition to China’s investment in CPEC, which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir

Long term security concerns for India

  1. The long-term strategic consequences of Obor for India could also allow China to consolidate its presence in the Indian Ocean at India’s expense
  2. China may use its economic power to increase its geopolitical leverage and, in doing so, intensify security concerns for India
  3. CPEC gives China a foothold in the western Indian Ocean with the Gwadar port, located near the strategic Strait of Hormuz(where Chinese warships and a submarine have surfaced)
  4. CPEC can also resolve China’s “Malacca dilemma” which is about its over-reliance on the Malacca Straits for the transport of its energy resources

What should be done from India’s side?

  1. Indian opposition has taken attention of those who remain suspicious of Chinese motives behind Obor in Pakistan as well as in the rest of the world
  2. The West is now more vocal in its concerns and voices in Pakistan are demanding a reappraisal of the project
  3. But India needs to do more than just articulate its opposition
  4. It needs to provide a new template for the world on global connectivity projects
  5. Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC): India has moved in that direction recently with an articulation of the Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC)
  6. Alternative to OBOR: The AAGC, structured to connect East Asia, South-East Asia and South Asia with Africa and Oceania, provides a normative alternative to Obor with its promise of being more consultative and inclusive
  7. This is a welcome first step but given the challenges that CPEC is facing, India will need to do much more to provide an effective counter-narrative
Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan
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