CPEC: Door Way to Central Asia/Kazakhstan

CPEC; Door-Way to central Asia

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative launched in 2015 with a budget of around 62 Billion USD and it has become a regional integration. It is open to all stakeholders mainly, to the Central Asian countries which are rich in natural resources and need better access to regional markets. CPEC will not only benefit China and Pakistan but also beneficial to the Central Asian Republics, particularly Kazakhstan. This article aims to highlight the potential benefits of the CPEC in terms of connectivity and cooperation with Central Asian Countries.

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, new states were established including the five Central Asian countries; Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. They are full of natural resources but landlocked.

The relationship between China and Central Asia was established in 1991 particular focus on Trade and we have seen an increase from $1 billion to $50 billion and 75 Percent of Trade passes through Xinjiang autonomous region of China.

CPEC: Door-Way to Central Asia

Central Asia is one of the best region for China, Pakistan and other regional countries to meet the energy needs through trade and other development projects.

For Example, China-Kazakhstan Oil Pipeline that carries 11 Million Tons of Oil. CPEC provides an immense opportunity to the Central Asian Republics particularly Kazakhstan to grow their trade with South Asian countries.

Central Asian countries have also shown interest in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. Before going towards further explanation we have to throw light on an important project “China-Kazakhstan Oil Pipeline”.

China-Kazakhstan Oil Pipeline:

The pipeline was constructed by Kazakhstan-China Pipeline, a business that “KazMunaiGaz” and the “Chinese National Petroleum Corporation” jointly founded. The pipeline’s construction is expected to cost $3 billion in total. Crude oil is transported from oil sources in western Kazakhstan to the Dushanzi refinery in the Chinese province of Xinjiang via the 2,798 km long Kazakhstan-China pipeline.

The pipeline with an 813mm diameter can hold 10 million tonnes of cargo annually (mt/y).

China’s expanding energy needs were the reason behind building the pipeline. By directly connecting China’s robust oil consumption market with Kazakhstan’s vast oil resources in the Caspian Sea, it created a win-win situation for both countries.

China Kazakhstan Oil Pipeline

By 2015, Kazakhstan’s oil production should surpass 100 million tonnes. China’s energy requirements are predicted to increase gradually, and by 2020, the nation is anticipated to import 65% of its oil. China will be able to meet these import needs thanks to the new pipeline.

The pipeline first reached its design capacity in January 2011. Over 30 million tonnes of crude oil have been transported by it since the first segment was put into service in 2006.

Technology used in Pipeline Project:

The system is set up at 19 pipeline base locations. Every location has Xfin base stations installed. To facilitate communication, operators at each of the 19 base sites are outfitted with car mobiles and portable radios. For the entire pipeline, an IP network improves data and voice communications.

In order to increase the pipeline’s operational effectiveness, the deal also included the supply of VSAT backup systems, hotline systems, and video conferencing systems.

In addition, Alcatel provided data networks, UHF trunking radio systems, and CCTV systems.

For the pipeline’s Kenkiyak to Kumkol section, ILF consultancy Engineers offered project management and consultancy services.

CPEC; Linkage between China, Pakistan and Central Asia:

Over the past 20 years, China has made significant investments in Central Asian nations’ energy and transportation infrastructure. More pipeline plans are being created and put into action, which are expected to increase gas supply by an extra 30 billion cubic meters per year (bcm/y) in addition to the current pipelines that connect China to Central Asia and supply it with 55 billion cubic meters per year (bcm/y).

China has additionally provided funding for the construction of telecommunications networks, roads, railroads, bridges, and other infrastructure in Central Asia. China also hopes to lessen the threat posed by radical groups operating in the region by supporting Central Asia’s economic development. Reducing the attractiveness of extremist beliefs has been shown to be beneficial when economic markets are developed and job opportunities are provided.

In light of this, the Central Asian nations have embraced the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and see the initiatives that have resulted from it as a possible source of regional advancement.

The Central Asian Countries particularly Kazakhstan has shown interest in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor but one of the challenge in regional trade and connectivity is instability in Afghanistan.

The shortest transit routes from Central Asian countries to Gwadar for trade routes pass through Afghanistan, but the chances of long-term peace in the region seem dim. This does not mean that the CPEC’s promising future would disappear as a result; rather, it will take a long time before peace and security are established to allow Central Asia to participate in the multifaceted project and add to its economic appeal.

Pakistan Central Asia:

After the Central Asian Republics were established, Pakistan sent a group consisting of businessmen and government representatives in 1991, and the two countries signed many memorandums of understanding. This was the beginning of the CARs’ connection with Pakistan.

The Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission Project (CASA-1000) and the TAPI gas pipeline project are two significant energy related agreements signed by Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, and the Central Asian Republics.

CASA-1000:

With the help of new energy infrastructure, the ambitious CASA-1000 renewable energy infrastructure construction project will deliver 1,300 megawatts of excess electricity from Central Asia to South Asian electricity markets with strong demand.

Every region benefits from this endeavour. This multi-national, multi-donor infrastructure initiative increases access to renewable energy across Central and South Asia, benefiting both individual electricity customers and the region’s power grids to a significant extent.Clean hydro-power resources are abundant in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, two countries in Central Asia.

CASA 1000

Due to summer rainfall and substantial mountain water flow, both nations generate excess electricity in the summer.

Afghanistan and Pakistan, two countries bordering South Asia, struggle with ongoing power outages, particularly in the warm summer months.

Thus, the CPEC will give the landlocked Central Asian Republics a method to improve their trade connections with the rest of the world, and Gwadar Port will supply the means to do so. Thus, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will augment the economic and social cohesion of the area and foster progress for all stakeholders.

The SCO-Central Asian Connectivity:

Six dialogue partners, four observer states, four guest participants, and eight permanent members make up the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, an intergovernmental organization. China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, and India are its permanent members.

The SCO was founded in 2001 with the goals of promoting safety and stability, combating extremism, separatism, and terrorism, and improving communication and collaboration among all partners in a variety of sectors, including energy, commerce, culture, and science.

Since most of the SCO members are landlocked, they can participate more fully by investing more, and once it is operational, they will have access to the Arabian Sea’s warm waters. The route designated under the Quadrilateral Traffic in Transit Agreement (QTTA) between China, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan can be used by the Central Asian Republics and Russia to link to the CPEC.

Conclusion:

The CPEC will benefit many states, but the landlocked Central Asian states stand to gain the most from it because of their access to warm oceans, which will allow them to trade natural resources and develop trade links with other economies across the world. Growing their engagement with Central Asian republics will also help China and Pakistan, especially in terms of gaining access to their abundant natural resources.

For the benefit of their shared development, increased regional connectivity will bolster economic integration and collaboration in other domains across regional economies. In spite of the CPEC’s potential to connect Central Asia with Pakistan and the regions as a whole, there are a number of issues that need to be carefully considered while building the massive project, aside from the Afghanistan factor.

These include internal politics in each of the participating countries, relationships with regional and international powers, sustainable financing for the project, environmental concerns, public opinion throughout the world, and apparent opposition from some nations.

The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will not only benefit South and Central Asia but it will also promote peace and stability between regional countries through cooperation and connectivity.

This Article is Written by Ms. Mouzma Batool. She is studying International Relations at the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad. She is interested in Regional Trade and connectivity, Central Asian and Chinese Economic cooperation and Diplomacy. 

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