Aamir Qureshi | AFP | Getty Images
A Chinese worker sits near trucks carrying goods during the opening of a trade project in Gwadar Port, Pakistan, on November 13, 2016.
The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a partnership between the two Asian neighbors comprising of approximately $60 billion worth of infrastructure developments.
CPEC is the BRI’s “most politically contentious, and strategic project,” Shailesh Kumar, senior analyst for Asia at Eurasia Group, told CNBC.
He reasoned that CPEC could be a headache for China’s rival India given that the program involves Kashmir, disputed territory between India and Pakistan. Kumar added that China’s befriending of Pakistan enables it to encircle India, thereby affording it a military advantage.
CPEC’s reach is broad and includes developing ports and rail links as well as agriculture, technology and tourism. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang described the two countries as “all-weather strategic cooperative partners,” while meeting Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in December.
The program is more than just China’s way of dealing with overcapacity in cement and steel, explained Daniel de Blocq van Scheltinga, founder and managing partner at Hong Kong-based advisory Polarwide. He added that he “would not be surprised if the relationship develops further,” with China’s presence in Pakistan’s ports serving as a “kind of naval base.”