Development of CPEC & BRI and China-US Emerging Relations

A healthy debate is ongoing regarding the newly announced concepts of “upgrade vision” and “inclusion of third parties” in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in the country. Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping has also announced key “strategic priorities” of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the next phase which comprises qualitative industrialization, modernization, innovation, digitalization, artificial intelligence, green transformation, hybrid agriculture, and, last but not the least, human capital and national capacity-building measures catering to the pace of numerous mega-projects of the BRI in all member countries around the globe.
China has invested US$25.4 billion in direct projects of the CPEC in Pakistan which created 236,000 jobs, generated 8,000 megawatts of electricity and built 510 kilometers of highways and 886 km of the national electricity grid which play an important role in the smooth sailing of the macro-economy in the country.

Evidently, the CPEC flagship project of the BRI has brought great constructive changes to Pakistan, which is reflected in the fields of economy, urban construction and energy. In the future, it hopes to carry out broader cooperation with China in the fields of economic development, education, health, climate change and so on. Moreover, CPEC Phase-II would bring more progress and prosperity to the country in the days to come, in which new concepts of upgraded vision and inclusion of third parties would be supportive.

According to Chinese figures, the BRI has seen the completion of over 3,000 projects within the last ten years. This expansive effort has garnered support from more than 180 countries and international organizations which augurs well for the regional as well as international economy.
According to many published reports, the BRI has become a mega development project with US$4 trillion investment in more than 160 countries, 1590 projects of 1.9 trillion tagged to BRI, 1574 projects of 2.1 t were Chinese investment.
Main projects pertaining to infrastructure development, formation of corridors, rail & transport connectivity, ports, railways in Western China, Central Asia, Western Asia, to Europe remained strategic priorities during the last ten years. Cargo trains run from Spain to China’s western province Xingjian highlighted the increasing influence of China in the world. Moreover, the continuation of holding of various high official meetings between the governments and policy makers of China and USA has now opened a “new window” of opportunity for Pakistan to “accelerate” the CPEC Phase-II in the country in terms of seeking more and more inflow of FDIs from the interested regional countries mainly the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, GCC and Indonesia in the ongoing mega projects of the CPEC in its phase-II. It would also further “widen” the scope of the CPEC Phase-II in terms of further strengthening of the spirit of geo-economics and trans-regional connectivity in the days to come in which the role of SIFC would be important.

The most recently-held 4th meeting of CPEC Joint Working Group on International Cooperation and Coordination (JWG-ICC) laid the “foundations” of up-grade vision and inclusion of third party in the ongoing projects CPEC Phase-II in the country. Frankly speaking, it clearly demonstrates the government’s commitment of both sides to foster international cooperation and coordination including CPEC. It is good omen that both countries reviewed with satisfaction the progress made since the third meeting of the Joint Working Group held virtually on 21 July 2022. Thus holding the 4th meeting of CPEC JWC-ICC upholds spirits of positivity, productivity and meaningful participation.
The ongoing various meetings between the Chinese and the US high officials and policy makers will hopefully streamline bilateral relations and remove negative perceptions on different regional as well as international socio-economic, geopolitical and geostrategic matters which will definitely ease bilateral tension, promote trade, commerce, investment and develop better political understanding in the days to come.
The recent meeting between Wang Yi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, and US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was held, carrying forward the positive momentum from the Xi-Biden head-of-state meeting in San Francisco. The meeting upheld constructive, holistic, comprehensive and supportive spirits and tried to make bridges of mutual trust, respect, caring & sharing of mutual interests through discarding geopolitics and moving towards geo-economics in the days to come. Nevertheless, it will largely depend upon the US future conduct and official commitment towards one China principle and three China-US joint communiqués.

During the 12-hour long meeting of two days, Wang shared the formula of further strengthening of bilateral relations between two countries, comprising creation of the spirit of equality and tranquility by avoiding disdainful attitude, seeking common ground, mutual respect and stop undermining each other’s core interests. It is a good beginning that both sides are trying to stabilize bilateral relations through strategic dialogues, building confidence building measures and appropriate environment for future progress however, the Taiwan question is likely to persist and potentially intensify.
It is predicted that recently held meetings which spanned more than 12 hours over two days, will provide a launching pad for the restoration of strategic communication channels, diplomatic, military, economic, financial, business, and climate change dialogues and consultations between two sides. The better political understanding and socio-economic integration and lifting of investment ban from the Chinese companies from the US side will create a strategic cushion for the Pakistani side to seek more and more inflows of the FDIs and qualitative industrial development in the country.
In summary, according to international media and the Chinese Foreign Ministry both countries also discussed international and regional issues pertaining to the Middle East (Israel-Hamas), Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Korean Peninsula, and South China Sea which vividly reflected increasing role of China in the regional as well as international affairs to achieve peace and stability.

It is recommended that the US government and policy makers should stop speculations and an overly calculating attitude towards China and jointly work for common grounds of regional as well as international peace and stability in the days to come. The exchange of delegations at various levels should not be stopped and try to make good use of current strategic communication channels.
The recently held meeting between Wang-Sullivan reflected strong commitments from both sides for strengthening the communication channels. It is suggested that true spirits of geopolitical accommodation, geo-economic integration and geo-strategic supportive cooperation between two sides will be a balancing act to resolve the existing conflicts in the world.
Pakistan has the golden opportunity to avail this golden opportunity to accelerate the pace of the CPEC Phase-II in the country. The genie of geopolitics is on the decline giving way for geo-economics and greater trans-regional connectivity. The up-grade vision and inclusion of the third party in CPEC Phase-II should be streamlined, strengthened and systematized.