The relationship between China and Pakistan has been strengthened by several key initiatives, two of which are the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Karakoram Highway (KKH). While they are related, it is important to understand their individual objectives and outcomes to fully comprehend their significance. This article will explore the differences and similarities between CPEC and KKH and examine their impact on the bilateral relationship between China and Pakistan.
The Karakoram Highway (KKH)
The Karakoram Highway is a 1,300 km long international highway that connects the northern parts of Pakistan to the Xinjiang region of China. According to the Pakistan-China Institute, the KKH is “often referred to as the ‘Friendship Highway’ and serves as a symbol of the close ties between Pakistan and China.” It passes through some of the harshest and most remote areas of the Karakoram mountain range, making it a challenging and dangerous construction project. However, it serves as a crucial transportation link for the transport of goods and services between Pakistan and China.
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a collection of infrastructure projects aimed at boosting economic development in Pakistan and connecting Gwadar Port in Pakistan to China’s Xinjiang region. According to a report by the China-Pakistan Joint Chamber of Commerce, CPEC is a “flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and a long-term and comprehensive project that covers the fields of infrastructure, energy, and industrial development.” The project includes the upgrading of the Karakoram Highway, as well as the construction of new roads, highways, and energy projects. The goal of CPEC is to provide a new trade route between China and the rest of the world and to spur economic growth in the region.
CPEC vs KKH: Are they different?
So, is CPEC simply a new form of the Karakoram Highway? The answer is no. While the upgrading of the KKH is a part of CPEC, the two initiatives have distinct goals and outcomes. The KKH serves as a transportation link and symbol of friendship between China and Pakistan, while CPEC is aimed at promoting economic development and regional connectivity through the construction of new infrastructure projects.
According to Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, “CPEC is not just a road, but a project of friendship and cooperation between the two countries. It is not just about the construction of roads and bridges, but also the upgrading of education and healthcare services, and the promotion of cultural exchanges.”
Related Information: Silk Route to KKH and CPEC
On the other hand, the KKH has been described as “a lifeline for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan” by former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif. He added, “The highway has opened up remote areas and provided people with opportunities for trade and commerce.”
Impact on China-Pakistan Relations The CPEC and KKH initiatives have had a significant impact on the bilateral relationship between China and Pakistan. The successful implementation of these projects has further strengthened the friendship and cooperation between the two countries.
According to a statement by the Pakistan Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, “CPEC has added a new dimension to the already strong relationship between Pakistan and China and has become a hallmark of close and cordial relations between the two countries.”
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Karakoram Highway (KKH) are both important initiatives in the relationship between China and Pakistan. While they have distinct objectives, they serve to strengthen the friendship and cooperation between the two countries. The KKH serves as a transportation link and symbol of friendship, while CPEC aims to promote economic development and regional connectivity. Both initiatives have had a positive impact on the bilateral relationship and will continue to shape it in the future.