Home Commentaries & Articles China- Pakistan Road Initiative: Strategic Implications for India

China- Pakistan Road Initiative: Strategic Implications for India

China- Pakistan Road Initiative

China- Pakistan Road Initiative

“China is sleeping Lion. Let her sleep, for when she awakes, she will shake the world………” Attributed to – Napoleon Bonaparte.


Asia’s strategic and geopolitical environment is constantly changing, and the principal reason is rising china and its activities. As a fact, china not only influences regional politics and economics but succeeded to expand the same across the globe up to certain extent. In the scholarly debate two countries are often described as the claimant of regional leadership, these are India and china, however the rapid progress in strategic sector and economy have promoted them to be capable of heading world  replacing United States of America. Of which one represents universally accepted principles of democracy whereas other represents communist way of thinking, one wants to rise with global recognition another adopted aggressive expansion to register its rise. Whatever may be the ways it cannot be denied that these two nations have captured the attention of globe while India rise is treated as consistent with global environment, china is perceived as threat to established democratic world order.

The impressive performance of Indian economy in last few years has resulted in promoting India as fastest growing economy in global system and has the capability to surpass the traditional economies soon. Its military and technological advancements also have major role in its dream to be regional or global power, whereas china has already secured second to third rank in economic ranking, since it had opened its comprehensive economic reforms in 1978-79. Its constant and stable GDP rate paved way for robust production that requires global market, which was provided by Asian and African nations that further expanded to European and American nations. Unprecedented economic growth compelled Chinese policy makers to strengthen its profile from regional to global level where it can challenge the supremacy of USA at one hand and at other to limit India’s rise so as to rise to global power status. While doing so china is cautious of military confrontation with India and in other parts of world hence its focus remain on economic hegemony via its popular method of ‘Soft power’, like United States of America china also embarked on global interventions, humanitarian aid, road projects, security cooperation, economic assistance, health care etc. Since last few decades china is engaged in developmental projects across the globe along with security and defense agreements to stalemate the US led world order in general and to frustrate India by linking itself with India’s neighbors. One of such efforts is china’s brand-new initiative popularly known as “One Belt, One Route”. The origins of this idea dates back to 206-220 B.C. during the Han dynasty that the silk route was established connecting the modern central Asian countries, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Tazakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan as well as modern India and Pakistan this route further extended four thousand miles to Europe.

The modern version of this silk route found its expression in the address of Chinese prime minister ‘Xi Jinping’ during his visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia in 2013, where he expressed his desire to connect china with rest of the world via his ambitious project One Belt One Route, later recognized as ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ project; which has two major prong, one economic belt and maritime silk road and second land connectivity through railway, gas pipeline, highways etc. this project  would eventually help china to expand the use of international use of Chinese currency, the Renminbi, following this china plans to build 50 special economic zones. This plan was referred to as 21st century maritime silk route at ASEAN summit.

The project includes heavy investments in port development in Indian Ocean from South East Asia all the way to East Africa. At present more than 60 countries or roughly 2/3 population have agreed for the same.

China- Pakistan Road


What is most strategic aspect of this project is china’s $ 60 billion investment in China-Pakistan economic corridor, a collection of projects connecting china to Pakistan’s ‘Gawdar’ port on an Arabian sea. According to Morgan Stanley, overall expanses of Belt and road initiative could reach to $1.2 to 1.3 trillion by 2027. After briefly studying the project, it would be crucial to understand the motivations of china behind such move. As per the research conducted on this subject, china has both politico-strategic and economic motivations such as to overpower rising India by dominating it. For this china have certain instruments like providing financial assistance to India’s ocean neighbors and probability of controlling regional check points. Realizing china’s intentions, Japan had suggested or even highlighted the necessity of plan called ‘Asia, Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) that aimed at creating ports from Myanmar to East Africa.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor or China- Pakistan Road Initiative

For Pakistan, this project would assist to pressurize and dominate India and to strengthen its strategic and military superiority by allying itself to china. In long run this project might turn into more military and strategic initiative than economic corridor. As there are number of articles and research outcomes suggesting China-Pakistan Road Initiative is broadly a defense arrangement with Pakistan to naturalize India’s growing power in Asia and in world in general. As New York Times said in its paper in 2018 that under this Pakistan is cooperating on distantly defense related projects, includes secret plan to build new Fighter Jets. Pakistan’s The Express Tribune said that Pakistan is biggest importer of Chinese weapons that was further supported by RAND Corporation who projected Pakistan’s arms import from china at around 42% during 2000-14. The Central military commission vice-president ‘Yang’ said that both China and Pakistan should strengthen their partnership in all sectors to face any challenge.

The China-Pakistan economic corridor or road initiative is more strategically motivated, whereby china wants to achieve defense leverage and expand its economic wings far from its traditional regions in which Pakistan has very constructive role to play. Unification of army with Pakistan is particularly important component of this strategy, as strong Pakistan would act what India’s role as a balancer in Asia was perceived by United States. One of the Chinese studies experts said Chinese ruling party want to be powerful on global arena. Similarly, there are enough proofs to revel that china wants to expand its influence over Indian Ocean. In short, the well-known strategy “String of pearls” is gaining currency once again due to Chinese CPRI project. In past, United States promoted India as a regional balancer in Asia by inking Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement; China is repeating the same by this project. It wants efficient, powerful, and developed Pakistan to be used against India, and to expand its economic, strategic power across the globe in general and region. So, India will have to explore counter threat strategy to deal with CPRI, such as

  1. India will have to initiate the process of connectivity in region not necessarily road construction but enhance bilateral trade, military, diplomatic ties with regional neighbors.
  2. China keep an eye on India’s immediate neighbors such as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and other middle and small countries who are strategic in china’s ambition. These countries can play very constructive role in India’s counter CPRI strategy
  3. India can strengthen its military-strategic partnership and economic relations with Japan, Australia who are important players in prevention of china’s expansion.
  4. Focus must be shifted on what Japanese PM’s idea of “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor” (AAGC) which can prove effective and parallel road to CPRI.

Since last few years, the attention of global political analyst has concentrated around Asia and Asia Pacific region and rise of china. In the last couple of year china has developed economic and military capability that it can challenge US supremacy in general and existing global order. It has explored soft power approach which helped china to expand its area of influence. Traditionally Indian Ocean has geostrategic importance and plays vital role in enhancing maritime power. Right from china’s development progress it has focused Indian Ocean as a crucial component in its global strategy. Equally important is china’s ambition to lead the world which is obstructed by another rising power and largest democracy in Asia ‘India’. While connecting the world via its Belt and road initiative, china is trapping India from all the side and promoting India’s longstanding rival Pakistan militarily and economically to use it against any Indian move. All these developments directly threatening India’s national security and sovereignty as the road passes through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK). India needs to develop fresh strategy to deal with this new challenge.

The China-Pakistan Road Initiative project exhibits that

  1. China wants to control Asian land and water routes to facilitate its trade in Europe and other parts of the world.
  2. Pakistan might prove a strategic link for china hence military and economic help to it is indispensible for china.
  3. India is already apprehensive of China-Pakistan axis, that further confirmed by CPRI which runs through Pakistan occupied Kashmir.
  4. China is following two-way strategies such as via this project it is encircling India from all India’s strategic points so that India’s military-economic growth would be hampered. On the other hand, to challenge US led democratic world order and increase Chinese power in global politics.
  5. This project would help china to strengthen its relations with India’s neighbors which would not be healthy for India.


Disclaimer: The views expressed are of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of Diplomacy and Beyond Plus. The publication is not liable for the views expressed by authors.


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