Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"China’s Grand Plan for Pakistan’s Infrastructure"

This is really a big deal, links below.
From The Diplomat:

President Xi Jinping has inked a deal with Islamabad that could provide Beijing with direct access to the Indian Ocean.
China’s President Xi Jinping came to Pakistan bearing serious cash this week, pledging to invest $46 billion in their neighbor’s fragile infrastructure on Monday. Much of that money will go toward the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It’s a mix of roads, rails, and pipelines that will connect Beijing’s infrastructure at Gwadar Port in Balochistan, just off the southern tip of the Persian Gulf, with Xinjiang province on China’s western frontier, some 3,000 kilometers away. That will do much to enrich a relationship that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif once described as “sweeter than honey.” It also gives China a direct route by land to the Indian Ocean basin, the site of 70 percent of the world’s oil traffic.

China’s Grand Plan for Pakistan’s InfrastructureIf enacted, that plan would enable China’s naval vessels and merchants to bypass the Malacca Strait, long a haven for pirates and militants who prey on unsuspecting ships. The CPEC would allow the government and banks in the mainland to lend to Chinese companies operating in Pakistan, facilitating construction along the route. Some of the other line items in the deal aim to fix Pakistan’s failing energy infrastructure: the CPEC calls for $15.5 billion in investments ranging from coal to solar and hydroelectric power, scheduled to become part of Pakistan’s national electricity mix in 2017. That will follow a fiber optic cable linking Xinjiang and Rawalpindi, which will come at the cost of $44 million.

China has plenty of incentive to unleash a spigot of investment, despite fears that Pakistani radicals are stoking violence in Xinjiang among the 10 million Uyghur Muslims that live there. Beijing has already pushed heavily for other projects in the region, including the 1,240 km Karachi-Lahore motorway, a six-lane, high speed corridor expected to be completed in the fall of 2017, and orchestrating upgrades to public transportation, including metro and bus service, in six cities, including Lahore, Karachi, and Rawalpindi.

Modernizing the Karakoram highway, which runs 1,300 km from Kashgar, the ancient silk road crossing in Xinjiang, all the way into the heart of the Punjab, Pakistan’s biggest province, will also prove critical.
All of that leads to Gwadar, which China hopes to transform into a free-trade zone on the order of a Singapore or a Hong Kong, another major focus for Chinese investors. That carries geopolitical weight. China’s aid to Pakistan now exceeds American spending, which has totaled $31 billion since 2002. Washington’s investments have slowed since counterterrorism funding authorized by Congress during the Afghan surge has dried up....MORE
One quick note: I can't imagine the Chinese navy is all that concerned with pirates, outlaws have usually come out the worse for wear when confronting navies.
China Bets Big On Pakistan

And five years ago:
Shadow War: We Told You the Indian Ocean Would Be Hot
In our November 2010 post "India Orders Firms to "Scour the Earth" for Energy Supplies as President Obama Heads Over" I mentioned:
I have a hunch that American schoolkids today will be hearing a lot about the Indian Ocean before they graduate and might even be able to find it on a map.*...
...*I mean come on, just look at the land masses that border it:
Map of Indian Ocean
Here's the latest, from Wired's Danger Room blog...
See also:
Indian Ocean Geopolitics: China Goes to the Maldives
"Is China Moving to Control the Indian Ocean?"