Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has arrived in Beijing over the weekend to participate in the One Belt, One Road summit, and the top item on his agenda is to finalise the Long Term Plan (LTP) for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC).
For the first time, details associated with the matter have been publicly disclosed. The plan lays out in detail what Chinese intentions and priorities are in Pakistan for the next decade and a half, details that have not been discussed in public so far.
Thousands of acres of agricultural land will be leased out to Chinese enterprises to set up “demonstration projects” in areas ranging from seed varieties to irrigation technology. A full system of monitoring and surveillance will be built in cities from Peshawar to Karachi, with 24 hour video recordings on roads and busy marketplaces for law and order. A national fibreoptic backbone will be built for the country not only for internet traffic, but also terrestrial distribution of broadcast TV, which will cooperate with Chinese media in the “dissemination of Chinese culture”.
The plan envisages a deep and broad-based penetration of most sectors of Pakistan’s economy as well as its society by Chinese enterprises and culture. Its scope has no precedent in Pakistan’s history in terms of how far it opens up the domestic economy to participation by foreign enterprises. In some areas, the plan seeks to build on a market presence already established by Chinese enterprises, for example — Haier in household appliances, China Mobile and Huawei in telecommunications and China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC) in mining and minerals.
In other cases, such as textiles and garments, cement and building materials, fertiliser and agricultural technologies (among others) it calls for building the infrastructure and a supporting policy environment to facilitate fresh entry. A key element in this is the creation of industrial parks, or special economic zones, which must meet specified conditions, including availability of water-perfect infrastructure, sufficient supply of energy and the capacity of self service power, according to the plan.
But the main thrust of the plan actually lies in agriculture, contrary to the image of CPEC as a massive industrial and transport undertaking, involving power plants and highways. The plan acquires its greatest specificity, and lays out the largest number of projects and plans for their facilitation, in agriculture