This case study of Gwadar port, part of a series on China’s Indian Ocean “strategic strongpoints” (战略支点), reveals that while Gwadar may one day serve as a major platform for China’s economic, diplomatic, and military interactions across the region, as of August 2020 it remains largely underdeveloped and underutilized.
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Supporters of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor have long argued that the initiative would spur development and improve Pakistan’s macroeconomic fortunes. As Pakistan faces its thirteenth IMF bailout in the last thirty years, it is clear that without serious reforms, the debt incurred to fund CPEC could do more economic harm than good.
Even as Huawei faces resistance in Western airwaves, it is racing ahead under the world’s seas in a commercial contest that could eventually provide China with strategic advantages.
The China Road Project, a team of researchers interested in China’s role in global development, will be traveling 60,000 kilometers over land and sea to investigate China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI), a foreign policy concept and global infrastructure plan announced by Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2013, to help close the information gap and shine a light on the multi-trillion dollar initiative.
A close look at the characteristics of China’s port projects in the Indo-Pacific suggests that rather than resulting in “win-win” economic prosperity, they are generating political leverage, increasing Beijing’s military presence, and reshaping the strategic operating environment in China’s favor.