18 Dec 2017
China tries winning hearts and minds in Gwadar through development-aid
To win over Gwadar residents, who view the project with suspicion, Beijing has been sending large amounts of aid to the impoverished region.
It has built schools, sent doctors and also offered $500 million in grants to develop infrastructure.
Here's more about it.
Gwadar: What has China offered Pakistan?
Beijing has pledged a $500 million grant to build hospitals, schools and improve water connectivity.
It has pledged $230 million to build an airport, among the largest aid disbursements by China for an overseas project.
This marks a departure from the Chinese practice of bankrolling overseas infrastructure projects by providing loans, not aid.
Andrew Small, an expert, terms the concentration of grants "striking."
Gwadar: Why is it significant?
Gwadar occupies a central place in the schemes for the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
It is also a key link between the land and maritime routes within China's ambitious One Belt One Road (OBOR) project.
Moreover, Gwadar is strategically located near the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of the world's petroleum trade passes.
It further enables China and Pakistan to encircle India.
What are China's plans for Gwadar?
China plans to develop Gwadar as a major trans-shipment hub and mega-port. It plans to develop the areas around the port as special economic zones focused on export-based industries.
Under CPEC, it also plans on linking Gwadar to China's western regions through roads and railway links and energy pipelines.
America and India fear that China will also look to operate Gwadar as a naval base.
China faces many challenges before it can realize Gwadar
Since the initial phases of the project, multiple terrorist organizations have targeted it.
Chinese laborers working on the project were particularly targeted.
Moreover, locals and political parties are concerned about the unequal distribution of economic benefits and various other modalities regarding the project.
The region is also currently plagued by a lack of water, electricity, road connectivity and skilled labor.
Here's why China is trying to win over Gwadar residents
China doesn't want Gwadar locals to resent the port. It fears a repeat of what happened with the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan government recently handed over the port to China. This triggered protests from locals opposing China's predatory debt-practices and infringement of sovereignty.
Moreover, China doesn't wantBaloch separatists to take advantage of people's resentment and target the port project.