- Unfair comparisons
While the projects under CPEC are on the roll and both Pakistan and China continue to evince unswerving interest and commitment to see them through, some detractors of this mega-economic initiative keep creating doubts and misgivings about the viability of some its projects and benefits envisaged to accrue to Pakistan. Some even have tried to draw a parallel between the CPEC and the Marshall Plan unfurled by the US after the world war-II. Equating CPEC with Marshall Plan does not make any sense owing to the fact that the purposes and motivations behind these two colossal undertakings are quite different, besides being launched under different circumstances.
Perhaps it would be pertinent to look at the objectives of the two to bring out the difference between them. The Marshall Plan was approved by the US Congress in March 1948 by passing Economic Cooperation Act. Economies of the European countries were completely devastated by the war and America felt that it was imperative to help them to rebuild their economies and check the spread of communism as poor economic conditions of those countries could make them vulnerable to the onslaught of communism both from within and outside. US poured an assistance of $12 billion in the European countries. The initiative also was designed to establish market for US goods in Europe. In addition to the foregoing objectives the Plan also has been acknowledged as the great humanitarian effort. So the Plan had economic, humanitarian and ideological dimensions. It undoubtedly nudged resurgence of European industrialization and consequently also imparted boost to the US economy by establishing markets for US goods in Western Europe.
A glance at the purposes and objectives of the Chinese ‘One Belt One Road’ vision which includes CPEC as one of its pivotal component, reveals that it is purely an economic undertaking, a participatory effort by the countries who become part of it to work collectively for shared economic prosperity. An action plan jointly issued by China’s National Development and Reform Commission in conjunction with China’s Foreign Ministry and Commerce Ministry on 28th March 2014 narrated the objectives of this grandiose initiative in these worlds: “It is aimed at promoting orderly and free flow of economic factors, highly efficient allocation of resources ad deep integration of markets, encouraging the countries along the Belt and Road to achieve economic policy coordination and carry out broader and more in-depth regional cooperation of higher standards and jointly creating an open, inclusive and balanced regional economic cooperation architecture that benefits all”.
While the Marshall Plan focused only on Western Europe, the Chinese vision has a global approach. Chinese President XI Jing Ping while addressing the World Economic Forum 2017 vividly spelt out the role that China envisaged to play in orchestrating economic globalisation. Referring to rising protectionism and uncertainties generated by Brexit he said, “Though globalisation has created new problems, there is no justification to write off economic globalisation completely. Rather we should adapt to and guide economic globalisation, cushion its negative impact and deliver its benefits to all countries and all nations.”
The emergence of NATO just after two years of the initiation of Marshall Plan was actually in response to the security threat that Europe faced
The emergence of NATO just after two years of the initiation of Marshall Plan was actually in response to the security threat that Europe faced from communist global power USSR and its allies and it also had an ideological aspect to block the spread of communism. The CPEC has no military or ideological dimension as it is purely an economic agenda. The Marshall Plan aimed at reviving the war-ravaged economies of Western Europe while the countries likely to become part of it do not suffer similar circumstances. It is true that like US Marshall Plan the CPEC initiative and One Belt One Road vision also are meant to find new markets for Chinese goods but the fact remains that it will not be a one way traffic. The countries participating in the CPEC would also be marketing their goods in China and other members which will also expand their markets. So it is wrong to assume that CPEC will only create a market for Chinese goods and not vice verse. Actually it would a win-win situation for all the participating countries and those using Gawadar port for their imports and exports like China, Russia and the Central Asian states. Iran Turkey and Afghanistan are also likely to join. This economic integration if it comes about as envisaged will also bring political stability in the region, through creation of economic interdependence between these countries.
True some regional countries and US are wary of this Chinese initiative and are also making covert and overt efforts to sabotage it, but that threat does not warrant formation of a military alliance like NATO or Warsaw Pact by the participating countries as feared by the circles venturing to draw parallels between the Marshall Plan and CPEC. Contrary to the apprehensions being aired, Pakistan would be the biggest beneficiary of the economic benefits flowing from CPEC. Just imagine the impact of the energy and infrastructure projects under CPEC. Economic experts believe that the successful completion of the CPEC would add 2.5pc growth rate to our GDP.
The Chinese Deputy Ambassador while talking media men and officials of the think tanks recently was right on money to dispel the impression regarding the burden of Chinese debt against Pakistan due to the CPEC projects saying “China’s debt against Pakistan is only 6.3pc of its total debt liabilities and the interest rate on those loans is only 2pc and not 14pc as is being propagated.” He reiterated that CPEC would create further 700,000 jobs by 2030 while by 2022 Pakistan’s energy needs would be met through the initiatives under it. That is an irrefutable reality.