This piece was originally published on September 28, 2017 and is republished with the permission of War on the Rocks. It was informed in part by the Johns Hopkins SAIS-Peking University (PKU) Dialogue, which was made possible by the Betty Lou Hummel Endowment Seed Grant for Collaborative Research on Foreign Policy, awarded to SAIS professors Daniel Markey and Joshua White.
The seed grant was established to foster collaborative research involving two or more SAIS faculty from different programs on emerging international issues, to promote research that informs fresh thinking about international policy and to catalyze substantial research projects that may receive external funding.
Why The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Will Worsen Tensions in Southern Asia
September 28, 2017
War on the Rocks
Editor’s Note: This is the ninth installment of “Southern (Dis)Comfort,” a new series from War on the Rocks and the Stimson Center. The series seeks to unpack the dynamics of intensifying competition — military, economic, diplomatic — in Southern Asia, principally between China, India, Pakistan, and the United States. Catch up on the rest of the series.
Last May, Chinese President Xi Jinping described the Belt and Road Initiative as the “project of the century.” Premier Li Keqiang has identified the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as the initiative’s “flagship project.” Marked by the fanfare of high-flying rhetoric and backed by billions of dollars in new investments, China has undeniably taken on a new and more active role in Southern Asia.
In the years since CPEC was announced, analysis of the geopolitical implications of these developments has also gotten more sophisticated. For the most part, this has led to gloomier prognostications about the geopolitical implications of China’s involvement in the region. This installment of the Southern (Dis)Comfort series aims to take yet another step into the gloom by showing how China’s grand schemes, Pakistan’s agenda, and India’s threat perceptions are, in combination, more likely to feed a spiral of suspicion and hostility than to encourage increased regional cooperation.