Pakistan, China to launch satellite to monitor CPEC projects
Pakistan and China have signed an agreement for the launch of a special satellite to monitor the development of the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
In this regard an agreement was signed between Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) and the China Great Wall Industry Cooperation (CGWIC) for the development and launch of the "Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite (PRSS-1) System in June 2018.
The agreement would also transfer space technology to Pakistan and the PRSS-1 is yet another flagship project between China-Pakistan relations after CPEC. The CPEC is a collection of projects worth $46 billion currently under construction.
Pak-China relations : The bilateral cooperation between the two countries in space domain would open new vistas of socio-economic and scientific cooperation, giving boost to the historic bilateral cordial relations in other fields. It would also help Pakistan in national security arena by strengthening border security and surveillance apparatus.
The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a collection of projects currently under construction at a cost of $46 billion. It is part of China’s regional transnational ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) initiative and its Maritime Silk Road project that connects large patch of Asia and Eastern Europe.
It is intended to rapidly expand and upgrade Pakistani infrastructure, as well as deepen and broaden economic links between Pakistan and the People's Republic of China. It will link Kashgar in Xinjiang province of China to Gwadar deep sea port close to Pakistan’s border with Iran.
Funding of the poject :
The projects would be financed by heavily-subsidized concessionary loans at an interest rate of 1.6% that will be dispersed to the Government of Pakistan by the Exim Bank of China, China Development Bank, and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.
If all the planned projects will be implemented, the value of those projects would be equal to all foreign direct investment in Pakistan since 1970, and would be equivalent to 17% of Pakistan's 2015 gross domestic product.
Advantage for China :
Currently, nearly 80 per cent of China’s oil is transported by ship from the Strait of Malacca to Shanghai, a distance of more than 16,000 km, but once Gwadar begins operating, the distance would be reduced to less than 5,000 km.
Moreover the location of Gwadar Port is strategically important as it lies close to the Strait of Hormuz (near Iran), a key international oil shipping lane. The port can also be used by the Chinese Navy for military purpose.
CPEC will develop Kashgar in to a trade terminus connencting the isolated and underdeveloped Xinjiang province to rest of China and other Asian countries.
Various land locked energy rich Central Asian countries are keen to connenct themselves to the infrastructure networks of CPEC as it will give these countries easy access to the Indian Ocean.
Advantage for Pakistan :
The corridor project will create some 700,000 direct jobs between 2015–2030 and add up to 2.5 percentage points to the country's growth rate.
Infrastructure projects under the aegis of CPEC will span the length and breadth of Pakistan and eventually link the Pakistani city of Gwadar and Xinjiang province of China via a vast network of highways and railways.
As part of infrastructure projects worth approximately $11 billion, an 1,100 kilometre long motorway will be constructed between the cities of Karachi and Lahore.
The Karakoram Highway between Rawalpindi and the Chinese border will be completely reconstructed and overhauled.
Over $33 billion worth of energy infrastructure will be constructed by private consortia that will alleviate Pakistan's chronic energy shortages, which regularly amount to over 4,500MW, and have shed an estimated 2-2.5% off Pakistan's annual GDP.
Concern for India : India has been protesting the corridor's passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir ever since the project was kicked off by President Xi Jinping during his visit to Islamabad last year as it passes through the Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) which may impact the security of the nation.