(ReliableNews.org) – The Middle East is a region filled with political tension, general hostility, and, sometimes, overbearing violence. With all of the chaos and instability, some countries are ripe to be taken advantage of. The “relationship” between China and Pakistan is a prime example of how the former looks to take full advantage of its “allies” under the guise of “friendship.”
Pakistan, located between Afghanistan and India, is positioned in an important geographic area. It acts as a sort of corridor between eastern nations and the Middle East. Crucially, the country has coastal access while extending a significant distance inland, making it a sort of corridor for trade.
Although Pakistan ranks roughly halfway up the global economic charts, over half of its exports include textiles and clothing. With such a hefty amount invested in apparel-related exports, it imports a good deal of essential goods and materials. Naturally, China and the US, among other countries, export to the Middle Eastern country and each have vested interests in the trade corridor.
However, China is primarily looking out for its own interests to such an extent that the citizens of Pakistan are suffering greatly.
China Swoops In
In an effort to capitalize on this valuable trade area, China developed a strategic deal with Pakistan called the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The deal is valued at $62 billion, over twice the total annual exports of Pakistan. CPEC is a collection of infrastructure projects that suffer from a plague of inadequate transparency. One result of this initiative was unusually-high electricity prices for the Pakistani people.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan formed a committee to investigate this issue. It turns out that coal plants set up under CPEC inflated their start-up costs a great deal. Naturally, those inflated costs are being passed down to the consumer.
A 278-page report, called the “Committee for Power Sector Audit, Circular Debt Reservation, and Future RoadMap,” showed the extent of the damage. Malpractices in the energy sector added up to 100 billion Pakistani rupees ($625 million USD). At least one-third ties back to the Chinese infrastructure projects. Reportedly, $204 million of it went to the excessive start-up costs for just two of China’s coal plants.
The lifespan of the project is set for 30 years, which, when adding in a negative 6% inflation rate against the USD, the total cost of this power generation project comes out to about $1.8 billion.
Why Work with China?
While there’s much more covered in the report, the real question is: why is Pakistan working with China at all? As mentioned, the Middle Eastern country relies heavily on imports, so self-sustaining domestic energy production is difficult. Another geopolitical consideration is the heated and bloody conflict between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir region.
Pakistan is looking for China’s support, even if it’s indirect, over this conflict.
The problem is the country’s signing a deal with the devil. As it turns out, China is extremely predatory with its business deals and is siphoning as much profit as possible out of the Pakistani people with no regard for their well-being.
The US experienced a similar situation with China’s hoarding of medical supplies when the rest of the world, especially America, was expecting to receive those supplies. This latest report from Pakistan should be a warning to all nations about the dangers of doing business with China.
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