Research Assistant NCMPR
The CPEC project will include building new roads, a 1,800-kilometre railway line and a network of oil pipelines to connect Kashgar in China’s western Xinjiang region to the port of Gwadar.
Gwadar Port will now catch international market. During the recent visit to Pakistan on 19th April, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s agreed to invest $46 billion in Pakistan in the CPEC projects.
Gwadar Port, a warm-water, deep-sea port, is located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf at Gwadar in the Baluchistan province of Pakistan.
Just outside the Strait of Hormuz, the port is adjacent to the key oil routes in and out of the Persian Gulf. It is also the nearest warm-water seaport to the landlocked, but energy rich, Central Asian republics such as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Gwadar port aspire to become a transshipment hub for cargo transportation to countries such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Iraq and other destinations in the Gulf.
CPEC can help China get connected with the Gulf region, Africa, Europe and other parts of the world in an easier way and in a shorter time. The current trade route for Chinese exports is from Shanghai to Dubai, via the Malacca Straits, a distance of 9000 miles; if this trade was routed from Urumqi (in China) to Gwadar, via Khunjerab, it would save about 5000 miles in distance and several days in transit time for the Chinese consumer goods being exported to the world market. Gwadar would potentially pave the way for the establishment of shipping related industry, oil storage facilities, and an oil refinery amongst other things. China’s investment in Gwadar Port, including West Bay Express Way, connecting the port and eastern coastline of the port, bulwarks of the port, anchorage dredging, a free trade zone and the new Gwadar international airport, would all be completed in three to five years.
A protocol on the establishment of China-Pakistan Joint Maritime Research Centre will be signed soon. A land lease deed for Gwadar free trade zone has been signed between China Overseas Port Holding Company and Gwadar Port Authority. The project cargo, for implementation, will now start coming in through Gwadar Port.
The upcoming Iran nuclear agreement will pave way for Iranian gas exports through planned 700 kilometers of pipeline from Gwadar to Nawabshah in Sindh, where it will connect to Pakistan’s existing gas-distribution pipeline network. Tehran says that its 900 kilometer part of the pipeline from an Iranian gas field is complete.
Gwadar’s raw potential is aimed to be transformed into a thriving economy and hub of international trade and commerce. China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC) now has managerial control of Gwadar Port for coming 4 decades. Critical infrastructure is being built to kick-start economic growth and open new trade routes that link the Indian and Pacific oceans, reducing distances and hazards and providing a reliable all weather link. Gwadar Port is a gateway of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a mega project which would connect southern Pakistan to China’s Northwest region of Xinjiang via highways and Railways.
Besides CPEC project, Chinese government also plans 21st century Maritime Silk Road, and One Belt One Road projects which would have transformative impact on Pakistan’s economy and lifestyle of an ordinary man in the country. Gwadar is set to become a vital trading point as it connects many shipping routes hence Pakistan and China are keen to turn it into a symbol of their expanding cooperation in future.