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HomeGeopolitical CompassSouth & Southeast AsiaHow China and Pakistan Negotiate

How China and Pakistan Negotiate

Authors:  Katherine Adeney, Filippo Boni

Affiliation: University of Nottingham’s Asia Research Institute (UK), and The Open University (UK)

Organization /Publisher: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Date/Place: May 24, 2021, USA

Type of Literature: Article 

Number of Pages: 41


Keywords: China Pakistan Economic Corridor, Special Economic Zones, Projects, Strategies 



The article discusses the China Pakistan Economic Corridor’s (CPEC) opportunity as a “game changer” in the bilateral relation of China and Pakistan. The authors highlight the local and global assumption that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) represents a unidirectional Chinese endeavor, in which Beijing is merely imposing the CPEC on its all-weather partners in Islamabad. The authors mention the significant changes to the routes and projects of CPEC following the change in the political landscape in Pakistan in 2018. China has been adaptive to the new changes from the host country. Initially, energy projects were priorities of the Pakistani government, specifically preferred by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Since taking office in 2018, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI, Pakistan Movement for Justice) government’s focus on socio-economic projects has not deviated markedly from the government’s previously formulated plans for the CPEC. Despite the changes made which shifted the focus toward the construction of Special Economic Zones (SEZ), especially the addition of the Rashakai area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, perceptions did not change. On the mutual agreement of both countries to relocate some of the industries to lower-cost production areas, the development of SEZs has been slow. One of the reasons is the bureaucratic structure and the politicization of these projects.  The authors conclude that the Pakistani government needs to increase transparency because CPEC can increase economic development and improve infrastructure in Pakistan, but the secrecy surrounding many of the projects means that it is challenging to make informed recommendations about them. Pakistan needs to identify a clear set of national and provincial priorities and consider projects’ financial and social sustainability. Because many CPEC projects include the construction of training facilities in Pakistan, the timelines for constructing these facilities have all too often fallen behind schedule.


By: Razia Wadood, CIGA Senior Research Associate  



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