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March 20, 2017

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CPEC mention in UNSC resolution good news

CPEC mention in UNSC resolution good news

ISLAMABAD: The mention of China’s grand “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative including the China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Friday's adopted UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution has come as good news for Pakistan.

However, this reference also showed the consensus of the international community on embracing the concept of Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

The CPEC that also passes through Azad Kashmir has thus received backing from the highest global forum, which is not obviously disheartening for India that keeps bragging about the success of its foreign policy, threatening Pakistan to isolate it in the world.

The CPEC is classified as closely related to the Belt and Road Initiative. It in particular is often regarded as the link between China's maritime and overland Silk Road with the port of Gwadar forming the crux of the CPEC project.

The resolution which extended the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) by one year called on countries to strengthen the process of regional economic cooperation, including measures to facilitate regional connectivity, trade and transit, including through regional development initiatives such as the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road (the Belt and Road) Initiative.

India has strongly opposed the CPEC and protested to China more than once, but its efforts to block the grand project have always met with abject failure as Beijing has rejected them vehemently. New Delhi has also told Beijing that while it was in favour of connectivity projects, the CPEC violated its sovereignty as it passes through Azad Kashmir.

However, Chinese diplomats have portrayed the reference to the Belt and Road as a community of shared destiny, both of which are Xi Jinping's pet initiatives, as a victory of sorts, hailing it as a first for China's diplomacy.

The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, also known as The Belt and Road (B&R), OBOR or the Belt and Road Initiative is a development strategy and framework, proposed by Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation among countries primarily between China and the rest of Eurasia, which consists of two main components, the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and oceangoing Maritime Silk Road (MSR). The strategy underlines China's push to take a bigger role in global affairs.

It was unveiled in September and October 2013 in announcements revealing the SREB and MSR, respectively. It was also promoted by Premier Li Keqiang during the State visit in Asia and Europe.

The coverage area of the initiative is primarily Asia and Europe, encompassing around 60 countries. Oceania and East Africa are also included. Anticipated cumulative investment is variously put at $4 trillion or $8 trillion.

OBOR has been contrasted with the two US-centric trading arrangements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

When Xi Jinping had visited Central Asia and Southeast Asia in September and October 2013, he had raised the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the MSR. Essentially, the 'belt' includes countries situated on the original Silk Road through Central Asia, West Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. The initiative calls for the integration of the region into a cohesive economic area through building infrastructure, increasing cultural exchanges, and broadening trade.

Apart from this zone, which is largely analogous to the historical Silk Road, another area that is included in the extension of this 'belt' is South Asia and Southeast Asia. Many of the countries that are part of this belt are also members of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

North, central and south belts are proposed. The North belt goes through Central Asia, Russia to Europe.

The Central belt goes through Central Asia, West Asia to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean. The South belt starts from China to Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Indian Ocean. The Chinese One Belt strategy will integrate with Central Asia through Kazakhstan's Nurly Zhol infrastructure programme.

The MSR is a complementary initiative aimed at investing and fostering collaboration in Southeast Asia, Oceania, and North Africa, through several contiguous bodies of water – the South China Sea, the South Pacific Ocean, and the wider Indian Ocean area.

The Maritime Silk Road initiative was first proposed by Xi Jinping during a speech to the Indonesian Parliament in October 2013. Like its sister initiative the Silk Road Economic Belt, most countries in this area have joined the AIIB.

East Africa, including Zanzibar in particular, will form an important part of the MSR after improvements to local ports and construction of a modern standard-gauge rail link between Nairobi and Kampala is completed.

In May 2014, Premier Li Keqiang visited Kenya to sign a cooperation agreement with the Kenyan government. Under this accord, a railroad line will be constructed connecting Mombasa to Nairobi. When completed, it will stretch approximately 2,700 kilometers costing around $250 million.

In September 2015, China's Sinomach signed a strategic, cooperative memorandum of understanding with General Electric. The memorandum of understanding set goals to build wind turbines to promote clean energy programs and to increase the number of energy consumers in sub-Saharan Africa.

The AIIB, first proposed by China in October 2013, is a development bank dedicated to lending for projects regarding infrastructure. As of 2015, China announced that over one trillion yuan ($160 billion) of infrastructure projects were in planning or construction.

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