China has reportedly rejected new project proposals from Pakistan under the Belt and Road Initiative due to concerns over security and political instability, according to a Nikkei Asia report.
The report, published on October 2, cited minutes from a high-ranking meeting between the two nations, indicating China’s reluctance to further invest in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $50 billion project under the Belt and Road Initiative.
Pakistan’s proposed projects covered areas such as energy, climate change, electricity transmission, and tourism. However, Beijing reportedly declined these proposals.
Notably, a plan to link the Gwadar port to Karachi’s electricity grid was declined. In addition, China forced Islamabad to retain a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Gwadar, which Pakistan had intended to move.
The political instability marked by the removal of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in April 2022, together with attacks on Chinese interests, seems to have influenced China’s decision.
James M. Dorsey, from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, shared insights with Nikkei Asia on the broader implications. He highlighted the recent attacks on Chinese interests in Pakistan, suggesting that Beijing sees their assets and personnel at risk.
In one notable incident in August, a convoy of Chinese engineers in Gwadar was targeted by the Baloch Liberation Army’s Majeed Brigade. This attack resulted in multiple casualties, including Chinese nationals, and was followed by a direct message from the BLA to China. The group gave Beijing a 90-day ultimatum to withdraw from Balochistan or prepare for intensified attacks on its key interests in the region.
Given these continuous threats and the BLA’s explicit warning, China’s hesitancy regarding further CPEC investments seems rooted in concerns for the security of its assets and personnel in the region.