China and Pakistan kick-started a plan on Monday which implies $46 billion worth of energy and infrastructure projects in Pakistan, in a move which will connect their economies and further build China’s economic ambitions in Asia.
China’s President Xi Jinping traveled to Pakistan to be present at the signing of agreements that target the establishment of a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The project is centered in Pakistan’s southern Gwadar port on the shores of the Arabian Sea and China’s Xinjiang region.
The project, which would be much greater than U.S. spending in Pakistan over the last ten years, is part of China’s plans to forge land and sea links to markets in the Middle East and Europe.
Xi Jinping, whose trip to Pakistan fill finish on Tuesday, explained the move cemented an “all-weather strategic cooperative partnership” between his country and its neighbor.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif explained the corridor would help Pakistan transform into a regional hub and offer China a cheaper and shorter route for trade with much of Asia, but also with the Middle East and Africa.
“Friendship with China is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy,” Sharif mentioned in a speech.
The corridor, a network of railways, roads, and pipelines, will transit Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, where poverty and a long-running separatist insurgency which the Pakistani army has promised to crush will shed some doubts over the feasibility of the scheme.
China is also concerned about Muslim separatists from Xinjiang, whom are partnering up with Pakistani militants. Although Xi did not address the issue on Monday, he said that economic cooperation is closely linked to security in a statement on Sunday.
“Our cooperation in the security and economic fields reinforce each other, and they must be advanced simultaneously,” Ji said, while Sharif mentioned: “I assured President Xi that Pakistan considers China’s security as important as its own security.”
Pakistan army officials added the Waziristan army offensive has killed a large number of militants. Afghanistan also has captured and handed over more than a dozen anti-China fighters it captured on its territory in recent months.
Xi requested greater efforts to settle peace in Afghanistan, where Pakistan is eager to restrict the influence of its main local rival India.
The two neighbors also have agreed to strengthen their cooperation in civil nuclear energy, maritime and space technology, as well as counter-terrorism and defense.
Image Source: Pakistan Today