CPEC envisages Sino-Pak security mechanism with country-wide surveillance 

CPEC envisages Sino-Pak security mechanism with country-wide surveillance 

P K Balachandran,
Chinese soldiers parade in Islamabad on Pakistan’s Republic Day on March 23 this year

A joint security mechanism against terrorism, including a pervasive country-wide surveillance system, is a key feature of the agreement between China and Pakistan on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Dawn reported in an exclusive piece on Monday.

The document says that the two countries will “jointly prevent and crack down on terrorist acts that endanger the safety of Chinese overseas enterprises and their staff.”

It notes that the security situation in Pakistan has deteriorated.

The Chinese would install a modern surveillance system (in which they have mastery), not just along the corridor but in all Pakistani cities.

But Dawn wondered who will man this surveillance system and what kind of signals the system would be looking for.

However, given the close military ties between Pakistan and China, such a joint security arrangement is considered to be a natural outcome.

On Pakistan’s Republic Day on March 23 this year, Chinese military personnel took part in the ceremonial parade for the first time in the history of Sino-Pakistan relations.

The CEPC is a humongous US$ 50 billion project which covers the whole of Pakistan from North to South and from East to West. And the projects included in it are multifarious, spanning agriculture, industry, transport, roads, railways, mining and even leisure tourism with plans for beach resort development with all kinds of entertainment made available.

Given the scale of the operations, the Chinese are to get visa free entry into Pakistan. With a radio and TV broadcast component included in it, the agreement says that the media will be used to spread Chinese culture and language to promote better understanding between the Pakistanis and the Chinese.

The document says that for Chinese enterprises and Sino-Pak joint ventures to function satisfactory, the legal and other frameworks should be made suitable to them. Chinese enterprises should be allowed direct access to the top echelons in the Pakistan national and provincial governments to smooth rough edges or settle disputes.

Contrary to expectations, agriculture has been given pride of place and not industry. Food production, processing, transportation and marketing will be opened to the Chinese who will bring the relevant modern technology, knowhow and funds.

The food produced will be sold both locally and exported principally to the Kashgar region of Xinkiang where 50% of the population is poor. Chinese enterprises in Pakistan will use Kashgari labor, apart from locals. The yarn woven in Chinese factories in Pakistan will be sent to Kashgar to sustain the textile industry there.

Chinese enterprises will exploit the granite and marble deposits in Western Pakistan and set up steel and petrochemical industries in the hinterland of the newly constructed Gwadar port in Balochistan.

Punjab, with its rich agricultural tradition, will be made into a huge granary with Chinese companies engaging in food production, processing, preservation and transportation.

As for the financing of the proposed projects, while China will contribute the bulk of it, funds would be sought from international institutions. Joint ventures will have to be partly funded by Pakistani government institutions. Pakistan will also give financial assistance in the form of tax concessions and other incentives.

Given the weak Pakistani rupee vis-a-vis the US dollar, the dealings will also be in the Chinese currency RMB. According to Dawn this will be Beijing’s way of internationalizing the RMB.

Commenting on the deal as a whole, Dawn says: “The flood gates are about to open. The CPEC is only the opening. What comes through when the door has been opened is difficult to forecast.”