China and Pakistan invited several other countries to participate in CPEC. But traditional mistrust, lack of mutual confidence and other causes kept them from taking benefit of the corridor.
OCTOBER 6, 2018
China Pakistan Economic Corridor was incepted in 2013 but materialized in 2015, when formal agreements were signed between Pakistan and China. No doubt, China and Pakistan invited all the countries to participate in the corridor. But traditional mistrust, lack of mutual confidence and other causes kept the countries away from taking benefit of the corridor. The development of Chabahar Portin Iran by India was considered as a parallel arrangement to contain the growing scope of Gwadar in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. The United States and other countries directly or indirectly opposed the concept of the corridor.
Japan made a positive gesture by conveying that it was not against the corridor but desired transparency in its implementation. While talking to Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad in November, 2017, Japanese ambassador to Pakistan Takashi Kurai said, “We are not against CPEC, we appreciate this initiative but, at the same time, we believe whatever project is carried out should be based on transparency, openness, and accountability. We have made it clear that we may be open to help in furthering this project”.
Though the details of Saudi investment in CPEC are not available, media reports speculate that the amount of investment might be around $10 billion. It includes development of oil facilities in Gwadar city. The interaction between China and Saudi Arabia from the platform of the corridor may redefine the engagement of the Middle East in global politics and economy
The change in the government in Pakistan in August 2018 paved the way for Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in the corridor. During his visit to Saudi Arabia in September, Prime Minister Imran Khan met the King and Crown Prince of the country. This visit by the leader of Pakistan is considered important due to two main aspects. First, Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country and nucleus of Islam. Pakistan is also a Muslim country and a nuclear power. Thus, bilateral relations between the two countries have religious and political foundations.Second, Saudi Arabia and the US are non-NATO allies, which allows the former to be open to the prospect of joining the CPEC.
Now days, there is a thaw and tension in the relations between Pakistan and the US. The Saudi government’s agreement on the corridor may be an indication of likely change in Pakistan’snature of relations with the US. According to a report, the foreign minister of Pakistan met with the US president at a reception of UN delegates in New York last month. He stated that Trump agreed that the US-Pakistan relationship had to be rebuilt. But such rebuilding may not take place at the cost of India-US relationship, the US interests in Afghanistan, and increasing influence of China in the region.
Saudi Arabia’s entry is an indication that US interests, directly or indirectly, will be protected in the corridor. Consequently, pressure may develop for redefining the terms and conditions of the partnership.Though the details of Saudi investment are not available, media reports speculate that the amount of investment might be around $10 billion. It includes development of oil facilities in Gwadar city. The interaction between China and Saudi Arabia in the corridor may also redefine the engagement of the Middle East in global politics and economy.
The writer is an author and has a doctorate in Political Science
Published in Daily Times, October 6th2018.