China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC): An Overview

Throughout the world, trade deals and economic projects between friendly and neighbouring countries are a common theme. Countries engage in mutually beneficial economic projects to help boost their economies and gain access to resources that otherwise would not be accessible. Participating countries benefit from such arrangements because the projects are designed to be valuable to all parties. 

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Pakistan and China are two such countries that have been engaging in shared economic projects for decades. The relationship between the two countries has been characterised as one which knows no bounds. Ever since independence, Pakistan has built strong economic ties with China, and the two countries have executed multiple formidable infrastructure projects, including the construction of the Karakoram Highway (KKH).

However, one particular agreement that has garnered more attention than any other in recent years is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). has gathered everything you need about CPEC, including its routes, benefits, and more.


Overview of CPEC


Pakistan and china flags in one image

CPEC is one of the most significant projects agreed between Pakistan and China. It was announced in 2015 after multiple consultations between the two governments. CPEC is a component of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

BRI is a global infrastructure project initiated by China to connect various parts of the world through roads, bridges, ports, and energy projects. By connecting Gwadar to Xinjiang, CPEC will improve economic ties between the two countries and bring the two countries further together.

Through CPEC, the two nations aim to achieve shared prosperity and promote regional stability, making it a project of immense importance not only for Pakistan and China but for the entire region and beyond.


CPEC Routes


Highway - project of CPEC


CPEC stretches all the way from the Pakistan-China border to the port city of Gwadar in Balochistan Province. The route focuses on connecting key economic hubs in Pakistan. These economic hubs are known as Special Economic Zones.

These zones have significant economic activity generated through manufacturing and agriculture. Moreover, by concentrating economic activity within these designated areas, CPEC aims to create jobs, stimulate production, and foster innovation, thereby contributing to Pakistan’s economic development. The project has four main highway routes:


Northern Route

The Northern route connects the Pakistan-China border at Khunjerab Pass to Islamabad. This route is an upgrade and extension of the Karakoram Highway (KKH). Under this project, the KKH has been extended, and new routes have been constructed to bypass flood-prone areas.


Western Route

The western route originates from Peshawar and extends all the way to Gawadar. This route covers Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Balochistan provinces. The main route is divided into two sections. The section connects Peshawar to Quetta, and the second route connects Quetta to Gawadar.


Central Route

The central route originates in Islamabad and goes to Basima in Balochistan province. This route touches all four provinces. However, a significant chunk of this route falls in the Punjab province because of its enormous land mass and location.


Eastern Route

The Eastern route also originates in Islamabad; however, it goes all the way to Karachi, from where it connects to the Gwadar port. A significant chunk of this route is in Punjab, followed by Sindh and then Balochistan.


CPEC Benefits to Pakistan


containers with pakistan and China flag


CPEC is the biggest infrastructure project in Pakistan. The amount of investment brought in through this project is unprecedented. The project is valued at $62 billion, the highest investment ever committed by a country in Pakistan. CPEC presents numerous benefits to Pakistan. Some main benefits are mentioned below:


Improved Connectivity

As an infrastructure project, building new roads and bridges is a primary component of CPEC. The project will improve connectivity to various parts of the country and significantly reduce travel time. The project has already reduced travelling time between Gilgit and Islamabad by approximately 6 to 8 hours.

This will result in a better travel experience and help increase the tourist flow. The planned length of the project is approximately 2,500 kilometres, which is massive in scale. The project will focus on roads and help expand and modernise railways.


Increased investment in Pakistan

CPEC will increase Chinese investments in Pakistan. With improved connectivity, Chinese businesses and corporations want to set up businesses in Pakistan. On the other hand, Pakistani businesses will also be able to take advantage of improved access to Chinese markets.

Chinese companies are already setting up businesses in Pakistan and are looking to expand their investments. With increased foreign investment, Pakistan can access advanced technology and machinery, which will help the manufacturing industry compete globally.


Reliable energy supply

One significant component of CPEC is the construction of power plants and energy infrastructure. It will help Pakistan deal with its energy crisis by increasing the reliable energy supply.

CPEC will provide the expertise and advanced machinery needed to construct dams for generating ample electricity, addressing Pakistan’s long-standing struggle with energy deficiency and underutilization of its natural resources.


Job opportunities for skilled labour

Given the scale and breadth of the CPEC projects, Pakistan will see increased employment opportunities in construction and energy. CPEC will increase economic momentum, which will increase the country’s economic growth by supporting and encouraging skilled labour. Thousands of Pakistani labourers are working on CPEC projects and learning new skills.


Social Development

Although the CPEC project is primarily an economic development initiative, it also aims to improve social development in Pakistan by providing poverty alleviation training and other similar initiatives. Under the social development umbrella, China will set up vocational training institutes and disaster management centres. These projects will improve the cooperation between Chinese and Pakistani researchers, civil organisations, and academics.


Improved relations with China

The CPEC project is a testament to the solid economic bonds between Pakistan and China. Both countries see this project as a source of economic cooperation and closer political relations. The governments of the two countries are eager to complete the project successfully.

Pakistan can benefit significantly from improved relations with China, its leading trading partner. China also provides security support and assurances to Pakistan, which is essential to counter any threat at the border.


Completed CPEC Projects


Gwadar Sea port project by Cpec


Under the umbrella of CPEC, several flagship projects are under development. Here are some important projects that have been finished as part of the CPEC initiative:


Completed Energy Infrastructure Projects

The energy infrastructure projects are aimed at meeting the energy needs of Pakistan. These projects focus on energy generation and its distribution to various parts of the country. The diverse portfolio of projects, including coal-fired power plants, hydropower projects, and wind farms, reflects a commitment to tapping into various energy sources.

This approach enhances energy production and diversifies the energy mix, reducing reliance on a single source and mitigating supply vulnerabilities.


Project NameCity
Sahiwal Coal-fired Power PlantSahiwal
Port Qasim Coal-fired Power PlantKarachi
China Hub Coal Power ProjectHub Balochistan
Engro Thar Coal Power ProjectTharparkar
Hydro China Dawood Wind FarmThatta
UEP Wind FarmThatta
Sachal Wind FarmThatta
Three Gorges Second and Third Wind Power ProjectThatta
Matiari to Lahore Transmission Line ProjectMatiari and Lahore
Karot Hydropower ProjectKarot, Jhelum River
HUBCO Thar Coal Power ProjectTharparkar
SSRL Thar Coal Block and Power PlantTharparkar
HUBCO ThalNova Thar Coal Power ProjectTharparkar


 Completed Transport Infrastructure Projects

The transport infrastructure projects are central to the CPEC initiative. Their success is critical to the overall success of the project. Improved connectivity will boost the Pakistani economy by further supporting sectors such as tourism.

These projects encompass various transportation-related developments, including highways, railways, ports, and airports. Additionally, their significance extends far beyond the mere movement of goods and people; they serve as the lifeblood of CPEC, offering a range of advantages to Pakistan’s economy and society.


Project NameSections Completed
Karakoram HighwayHavelian to Thakot section completed
Peshawar to Karachi MotorwayMultan to Sukkur section completed
Hakla to Dera Ismail Khan MotorwayThe whole section completed


Progress on the Gwadar Port Project

The construction of the Gwadar port is a flagship project under CPEC. It is one of the main projects which is currently under implementation. The Pak-China Technical and Vocational Institute is among the completed projects in the Gwadar Port master plan. Other projects, such as the construction of the Gwadar International Airport, are in progress.

Furthermore, besides these projects, the development of Special Economic Zones is in progress.




What is CPEC?

CPEC stands for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a significant infrastructure and economic development project that aims to connect Gwadar Port in southwestern Pakistan to China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang.


Who is funding CPEC?

China provides the majority of funding for CPEC through the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China. Pakistan also invests in the project through various means.


What are the main objectives of CPEC?

The primary objectives of CPEC are to enhance connectivity, promote economic development, reduce poverty, and foster regional integration between China and Pakistan.


What are the critical components of CPEC?

CPEC includes various components, such as infrastructure development (roads, railways, and ports), energy projects (power generation and transmission), industrial zones, and cooperation in various sectors, including agriculture and tourism.


How long is the CPEC route?

The CPEC route stretches over approximately 2,000 kilometres, connecting Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province to China’s western region.


What are the benefits of CPEC for Pakistan?

Pakistan is expected to receive several benefits from CPEC. These include better infrastructure, more energy security, more jobs, increased trade, and faster economic growth.


What are the concerns or criticisms regarding CPEC?

Some concerns about CPEC include debt sustainability, environmental impacts, transparency in project financing, and questions about the extent of local participation in the projects.


How is CPEC related to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)?

People often refer to CPEC as a flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) because it plays a crucial role in the BRI’s efforts to enhance global connectivity and cooperation.


How can I stay updated on CPEC developments?

You can stay updated on CPEC by following news sources, government announcements, and official CPEC websites. Moreover, monitoring international relations between China and Pakistan is also helpful, as these can influence the project’s progress.


Are there any security concerns related to CPEC?

Yes, the project’s proximity to conflict-prone regions has raised concerns about security. Both Pakistan and China have taken measures to address these concerns, including the deployment of security forces.

We hope the information provided in this blog was helpful to you and will add to your knowledge. strives to bring you the best information on topics that matter the most.


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