China and Pakistan have extended an invitation to ‘any third country’ that wishes to invest in the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, is a collection of transportation and energy projects that began construction in Pakistan in 2013. According to the BBC, the value of CPEC projects has risen from $47 billion to $62 billion by 2020.
The plan will primarily focus on an economic corridor connecting Gwadar, Pakistan, and Kashgar, China’s Xinjiang region. India has repeatedly expressed its opposition to the project, claiming that it violates its sovereignty by passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. According to a Foreign Office statement, during the third virtual meeting of the CPEC Joint Working Group (JWG) on International Cooperation and Coordination (JWG-ICC), both sides expressed interest in inviting other countries to invest in the project.
The meeting emphasized that CPEC had broken new ground in strengthening international and regional connectivity, particularly with its extension to Afghanistan. ‘ As an open and inclusive platform, both sides welcomed interested third parties to benefit from avenues for mutually beneficial cooperation opened up by CPEC,’ the Foreign Office said in a statement. Though it has not been revealed who may be investing in the project, a Global Times report on January 16 suggested that Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Germany may be interested.
Despite being intended to create jobs and prosperity in Pakistan, CPEC projects have met with widespread opposition, particularly in the Gwadar district of Pakistan’s Balochistan province. According to the Nikkei Asia news agency, development in Gwadar, which is the backbone of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), slowed under the leadership of former Prime Minister Imran Khan due to friction between the two countries.