China last year promised $46 billion to build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—its strategic trade route to the Indian Ocean. China and Pakistan hope the project’s roads, rails and pipelines will help stabilize Pakistan and the broader region, but some Pakistanis also say it risks feeding corruption and upheaval. India opposes the project, but how actively will it do so? How far could CPEC advance U.S. interests in a more stable Pakistan that is less hospitable to Taliban and other extremist groups?  What impact might these investments have on stability in Afghanistan?  The U.S. Institute of Peace convened a group of experts on December 1 to examine this landmark project and its implications for South Asia.

CPEC 3215-X3.jpg
Panel Left to Right - Jennifer Staats, Director, USIP China Program, Hussain Nadim, Government of Pakistan, Arif Rafiq, Middle East Institute, Hai Zhao, Tsinghua University, China, Sarah Watson, CSIS

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a mainstay of China’s “One Belt, One Road” strategy to build its trade routes and influence westward through Asia. Nineteen months after China and Pakistan signed a series of CPEC deals, the project is underway—a sprawling collection of energy projects, road construction, special economic zones, and industrial parks. But questions remain pressing. Armed dissidents in Pakistan’s Balochistan province resist the project as an unfair exploitation of their region. A recent speech by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has raised questions about how energetically his government might oppose it. 

What is the U.S. response to CPEC, and what should it be? Could China’s project complement U.S. efforts to stabilize Afghanistan by building trade routes from Central Asia to the Indian Subcontinent? 

The December 1 USIP panel examined the progress of CPEC so far, and its costs and benefits for Pakistan, South Asia and the United States.

Panelists  

Hussain Nadim
Senior Pakistan Expert, Asia Center, U.S. Institute of Peace
Former Special Assistant to Federal Minister of Planning, Development, and Reforms, Government of Pakistan

Arif Rafiq
President, Vizier Consulting, LCC
Fellow, Center for Global Policy
Non-Resident Fellow, Middle East Institute

Sarah Watson
Associate Fellow, Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies 

Zhao Hai
Research Fellow, National Strategy Institute, Tsinghua University, China

Jennifer Staats, Moderator
Director, China Program, Asia Center, U.S. Institute of Peace

Related Publications

India-Pakistan Tensions Test China’s Relationships, Crisis Management Role

India-Pakistan Tensions Test China’s Relationships, Crisis Management Role

Thursday, March 7, 2019

By: Jacob Stokes; Jennifer Staats

The latest India-Pakistan crisis has put China in a difficult position, as it tries to balance its relationships with both countries, while helping to stave off a conflict and demonstrate its ability to manage and resolve crises. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke to leaders in both Pakistan and India last week, urging them to practice restraint and find a way to deescalate the situation. Despite Pakistan’s request for China to play a more active role, competing priorities constrained the degree to which Beijing could lead—highlighting a chronic challenge for Chinese diplomacy in South Asia. China’s decision to keep a low profile is likely deliberate and in keeping with longstanding practice, but it is inconsistent with Beijing’s aspirations to lead in Asian crisis diplomacy.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

Amb. Richard Olson on the India-Pakistan Crisis

Amb. Richard Olson on the India-Pakistan Crisis

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

By: Richard Olson

Last week, tensions between India and Pakistan—sparked by a suicide attack claimed by a Pakistan-based terrorist group—put the world on notice. “The United States has reached a point where it believes that the militants operating out of Pakistan are … a threat, not just to India and to Afghanistan and our forces in Afghanistan, but … a threat to the long-term stability of the Pakistani state,” says Richard Olson, a former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

What Can be Done to Calm the India-Pakistan Crisis?

What Can be Done to Calm the India-Pakistan Crisis?

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

By: Moeed Yusuf

On February 14, in the disputed region of Kashmir, a suicide bomber rammed into a convoy of Indian paramilitary police, killing 44. The attack was claimed by the Pakistan-based Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammad and was the deadliest bombing in Kashmir in three decades. Nearly two weeks after the attack, India launched a retaliatory airstrike. USIP’s Moeed Yusuf examines how the U.S. and international partners are key to preventing further escalation that could lead to nuclear war.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention

View All Publications