The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a mega initiative of China for development, connectivity, people-to-people contact, and contributing toward the social and economic well-being of humankind globally. There are six planned economic corridors under BRI, and one of them is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project and one of the most advanced stage projects. The fruits of the CPEC are being enjoyed by both countries.
The CPEC has emerged as a game-changer for Pakistan, ushering in a new era of economic growth and development. Since its inception, the CPEC has been a symbol of the deep-rooted friendship and strategic cooperation between China and Pakistan. This ambitious infrastructure and energy project has been instrumental in bolstering the economic landscape of Pakistan, both directly and indirectly.
Direct Social Impact of CPEC on the Common Man
Job Creation and Poverty Alleviation: The CPEC’s vast infrastructure projects and Special Economic Zones (SEZs) have led to a surge in employment opportunities for ordinary Pakistanis. As per experts’ estimates, the CPEC has created over 75,000 direct jobs in the country by December 2021, reducing unemployment rates and improving the standard of living for countless families. This rise in employment has also played a crucial role in alleviating poverty and reducing income disparities.
Education and Skill Development: A significant aspect of the CPEC’s social impact is its focus on education and skill development. Pakistan has witnessed an influx of Chinese investments in educational institutions and vocational training centers. This collaboration has not only provided access to quality education but also facilitated the transfer of technical knowledge and expertise. As a result, the Pakistani workforce is becoming better equipped to participate in various industries, further enhancing their employability.
Healthcare Advancements: The CPEC has facilitated investments in Pakistan’s healthcare sector, leading to improved medical facilities and services in both urban and rural areas. Chinese investments have helped establish state-of-the-art hospitals and medical research centers, catering to the healthcare needs of the common man. This development has led to increased life expectancy and a decline in preventable diseases.
Indirect Social Impact of CPEC on the Common Man
Enhanced Connectivity and Regional Integration: The CPEC’s focus on infrastructure development, including modern roads, railways, and ports, has significantly improved connectivity within Pakistan and across the region. This has opened up new avenues for trade and commerce, benefiting local businesses and consumers. The increased regional integration has also fostered cultural exchange and people-to-people connectivity, promoting social harmony and understanding.
Women Empowerment: The CPEC has played a pivotal role in promoting women’s participation in the workforce. Many women have found employment opportunities in sectors like textiles, manufacturing, and services within the SEZs. Additionally, various social initiatives supported by the CPEC aim to empower women entrepreneurs and provide them with the necessary resources and training to start and grow their businesses.
Environmental Protection: The CPEC’s energy projects have placed a strong emphasis on renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power. By reducing the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, the CPEC has contributed to mitigating the impact of climate change and improving air quality, which directly benefits the health and well-being of the common man.
Direct Impact of CPEC on Pakistan’s Economy
Infrastructure Development: One of the most evident direct impacts of the CPEC is the extensive development of infrastructure throughout Pakistan. The construction of modern highways, railways, ports, and energy projects has significantly improved connectivity and reduced transportation costs.
Energy Sector Revitalization: Pakistan’s chronic energy crisis has been a major obstacle to its economic progress. CPEC addressed this issue by investing in energy projects, resulting in a surge in electricity generation capacity. As a result, Pakistan has experienced a substantial reduction in power outages, enabling businesses to operate more efficiently. By December 2021, CPEC had added around 5,200 MW of electricity to Pakistan’s national grid.
Industrial Zones: SEZs established under the CPEC have been vital in attracting foreign investment and promoting local industries. These SEZs have created numerous employment opportunities, supporting the government’s efforts to alleviate poverty and reduce unemployment.
Indirect Impact of CPEC on Pakistan’s Economy
Enhanced Trade and Investment: The CPEC has transformed Pakistan into a regional economic hub, creating unprecedented trade and investment opportunities. As a result, the country has witnessed a surge in foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, which reached a record $2.1 billion in the fiscal year 2021. The CPEC has also paved the way for Pakistan to tap into China’s extensive market, further boosting its exports.
Skill Development and Technology Transfer: Collaboration with Chinese companies has facilitated the transfer of advanced technology and expertise to Pakistan. This has not only upgraded the country’s technical capacity but has also empowered its workforce with new skills and knowledge. As a result, Pakistan is better positioned to participate in the global knowledge economy.
Regional Connectivity and Geopolitical Significance: The CPEC has significantly enhanced regional connectivity, fostering economic ties not only with China but also with other countries in the region. By bridging the gap between the Arabian Sea and the landlocked regions of China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the CPEC has become a crucial component of the BRI, reinforcing Pakistan’s geopolitical significance.
As the CPEC continues to evolve, it is imperative for Pakistan and China to maintain a commitment to sustainable development, transparent practices, and community engagement to ensure that the social benefits of the CPEC are sustainable and inclusive, leaving a lasting legacy of progress and prosperity for generations to come.
Pakistan and China must continue to work together, utilizing effective governance and transparent practices, to ensure that the CPEC’s benefits are sustainable and shared equitably among all sections of society.
With continued commitment and cooperation, the CPEC has the potential to pave the way for a prosperous and brighter future for the people of both China and Pakistan.