Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

Editorial

November 4, 2018
Advertisement

PM in China

Editorial

November 4, 2018

Share

Prime Minister Imran Khan had two goals during his visit to China. He needed an emergency injection of foreign currency, along the lines of that given by Saudi Arabia, to stave off an immediate financial crisis and he wanted to ensure that projects under CPEC would continue to be developed and funded. He had more success in the latter part of his mission as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang agreed that CPEC must move forward. He and Imran also signed 15 MoUs for cooperation in various fields, including agriculture. There was tellingly no word from China as to whether it is willing to give Pakistan further loans or aid at a time when we are in such dire straits that we have once again approached the IMF for help.

On the CPEC front, Imran’s visit may not end up being quite the achievement he thinks it is. There is growing fear in the country that CPEC may end up being the whitest of elephants. The projects completed so far have not led to an appreciable increase in export capability but the oil and capital technology required to get them up and running has certainly increased our import oil. There have been some advantages, most notably a decline in loadshedding, as new power plants come on track. But with CPEC loans soon coming due, it may turn out that this economic partnership costs us more than we can afford.

Of course, Pakistan’s partnership with China is based on more than economics. At a time when the Modi government in India seems determined to isolate Pakistan internationally, we need China as a political ally to maintain security in the region. It is also Chinese help that has allowed Pakistan, for the first time, to develop a backbone in its dealings with the US. Not being entirely dependent on US aid means Pakistan has been able to withstand the many ridiculous demands of the Trump administration. That may change, however, if the country’s debt crisis is prolonged. China is obviously hesitant to give us a bailout, and has said this issue requires more talks. This means it is likely that China will extract its pound of flesh, likely on both the rate of interest it charges and in terms of political and economic concessions given to it in CPEC projects. For all the talk of CPEC being a game-changer, it seems its biggest impact will be to tie Pakistan much too closely to China.

Advertisement

Comments