Mon, 26 Aug 2019

Brussels [Belgium], July 18 (ANI): European researcher and political scientist Siegfried O Wolf has said that the multi-billion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) stands on an extremely shaky legal ground.

While referring to the ongoing CPEC project in Gilgit-Baltistan, a disputed region under Pakistani occupation, Wolf said, "The whole CPEC stands legally on an extraordinary shaky ground. Firstly, Gilgit-Baltistan is occupied and administered by Pakistan. Furthermore, it is even not made by Pakistan itself constitutionally a part of the country.""Secondly, it lacks completely local ownership. Neither the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, nor the powerless political institutions and representatives installed on behalf of Pakistan's central government have any decision-making power in the CPEC process," he added.

Wolf also said, "The accession of Gilgit-Baltistan to Pakistan by an unauthorised British officer in the wake of the partition lacks legitimacy. As such, Pakistan occupation and administration of Gilgit-Baltistan is against international agreements."He stressed that China is clearly aware of the disputed status of Gilgit-Baltistan and that any development projects and investments are subsequently in a legal-limbo.

"But apparently, given the paramount significance of the CPEC project and considering that Gilgit-Baltistan offers the only land-based connectivity between China and Pakistan, China decided to ignore the disputed status and thus assenting accepts to violate international norms."The researcher believed that CPEC is part of China's increasingly assertive and expansionist foreign policy agenda to create a new Chinese dominated quasi-alliance system based on 'tributary states'.

"The CPEC is a clear expression of China's ambitions not only to change the international order to its advantage but also for the attempt to establish itself as the absolute regional hegemony in Asia. Therefore, besides the economic aspects, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects are aiming to achieve political influence in beneficiary countries in order to ensure geopolitical, strategic and military interests," Wolf said.

He remarked that after assessing the first phase of the CPEC implementation, (infrastructure and energy sector development) one can state that there are predominantly two groups profiting from the project -- Chinese state-owned companies (including private one enjoying large-scale backing from Beijing) as well as military-owned or runned companies, like Frontier Works Organisation (FWO) or the Special Communication Organisation (SCO).

"However, the 'lion's share' of the contracts went to Chinese companies, meaning that the provided capital from Beijing either stays in China or will outflow from Pakistan towards China. It is a similar scenario we must expect with the potentially upcoming earnings," Wolf said.

"Until now, the opportunities for Pakistani private companies (especially small, middle-sized companies or SMEs) to win over a CPEC contract must be described as 'abysmally'," he added.

Speaking about his new book about the much ambitious project of China, Wolf said, "The purpose of the book is to offer a comprehensive assessment of the CPEC implementation, covering not only the economic aspects but especially the social, political, security and environment-related impacts on Pakistan and society with focus on local communities.""Moreover, it elaborates on the official rhetoric as well as the hidden agenda of the corridor," said Wolf, who is also the Director of Research at Brussels-based geopolitical think-tank, South Asia Democratic Forum.

Wolf remarked, "Furthermore, to assess the potential impact of the CPEC on the region, more concrete: how far is the CPEC an engine for regional cooperation or a source for further conflict?""Against this backdrop, the book aims to serve as an important reference for policy-makers, academics and other stakeholders committed to sustainable economic growth through regional cooperation and respect for democracy, human rights, peace and stability in South Asia and beyond," he further said. (ANI)

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