China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Cooperation Encounters Challenges in Energy and Infrastructure Projects, Says Report

Islamabad, Pakistan:  China and Pakistan have faced significant challenges in their collaborative efforts to expand the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), particularly in areas of energy, water management, and climate change, according to a report by The Express Tribune. Disagreements and alterations in agreements have underscored the hurdles in this crucial partnership between the two nations.

This information came to light in the recently signed minutes of the 11th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting for CPEC, which occurred in October 2022 but saw the signing of its minutes in July 2023, highlighting extended negotiations and disputes. The JCC serves as a pivotal decision-making body for CPEC, as per The Express Tribune.

One major point of contention was the establishment of a new coal-fired power plant in Gwadar. Pakistan altered its stance on this project, complying with certain Chinese demands. These alterations, along with other issues, are detailed in the final minutes signed by both parties, which predominantly reflect China’s perspective.

Key points of discord highlighted in the report include:

Exclusion of Cross-Border Tourism Cooperation: China did not agree to cross-border tourism cooperation in regions such as Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), and coastal areas, as proposed by Pakistan.

Inclusion of Water Resources Management and Climate Change: China did not embrace Pakistan’s suggestions to incorporate Water Resources Management, Climate Change, and Urban Infrastructure Development within the CPEC framework.

Creation of a New Joint Working Group: China did not support Pakistan’s idea of establishing a new joint working group on water resources management and climate change.

Financial Challenges of Power Companies: Discussion of financial challenges faced by power companies, particularly regarding projects like the Azad Pattan hydropower project, Kohala power plant, and Thar Block 1 Shanghai Electric Co power plant, was omitted from the final minutes.

Gwadar Power Plant: Pakistan made significant concessions concerning the 300MW Gwadar Power Plant, advancing it in line with China’s existing plan.

Power Rates and Fuel Procurement: Pakistan committed to addressing issues related to power rates and fuel procurement for CPEC projects, as per China’s expectations.

Exclusion of Specific Projects and Areas: Certain projects and cooperation areas, including the South-North gas pipeline, strategic underground gas storage, seismic studies, metallic minerals exploration, and technology transfer, were not included in the final minutes.

The Ministry of Planning emphasized that the signing of the 11th JCC meeting minutes underscores the strong relationship between Pakistan and China and their commitment to achieving common goals, as reported by The Express Tribune. However, these disparities in the agreed-upon minutes highlight the complexities and challenges facing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a project of significant regional and global importance.

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