China has declined any call for fresh investment in new BRI projects in Pakistan. It cited that the reasons are political instability and worsening security conditions in Islamabad. This information was revealed in the minutes from a high-level meeting between the two neighboring nations.
Two officials who have reviewed the meeting’s minutes disclosed to the media that China has rejected Pakistan’s proposals to expand the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with additional projects related to energy, climate change, electricity transmission lines, and tourism. The CPEC is evaluated at $50 billion of China’s BRI.
The 11th meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC), the highest decision-making body for CPEC, occurred in October of last year, with the minutes signed in July. Reports in local media had previously highlighted China’s reluctance to deepen its involvement in Pakistan.
Additionally, the minutes revealed that Beijing turned down Islamabad’s request to construct a 500-KV transmission line connecting the southern port of Gwadar, to the national electricity grid in Karachi. At the same time, China insisted that Pakistan withdraw its objections to a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Gwadar, which Islamabad sought to relocate to a location where domestic coal could be used instead of imported coal.
In response to these reports, Pakistan’s Ministry of Planning and Development downplayed China’s cautious stance, asserting that “China and Pakistan are committed to expanding the scope of CPEC to include new areas of cooperation, such as water resources management, climate change, and tourism.”
Nevertheless, as China commemorates the 10th anniversary of its BRI, it appears to be exercising greater selectivity, particularly as its own economy experiences a slowdown. China’s approach to Belt and Road investments is guided by prudence and long-term sustainability. And hence, Pakistan does not fit to the aspirations of its Chinese masters.
The deteriorating security situation in Pakistan, including attacks on Chinese nationals, adds to Beijing’s concerns. It is worth mentioning that a convoy of Chinese engineers was attacked by the BLA freedom fighters in Pakistan-occupied-Balochistan. Moreover, political upheaval has gripped Pakistan since the ousting of former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government in April 2022, resulting in civil unrest. Recent attacks, such as a pair of deadly suicide bombings, have further played an important role in pushing the Chinese to think twice.
Additionally, Pakistan’s inability to make $1.2 billion in overdue payments to Chinese power producers due to a severe cash shortage has made China reluctant. The breeder of terrorism is finally facing the outcomes of its own deeds. The country is grappling with political instability and hence, the so-called “all weather friend” of Pakistan is leaving its hand.