August 24, 2018

The Grand Strategy of Rain Man

A unique individual in the Indian political circuit, this Rain Man is capable of making money rain by conjuring various schemes to loot public money and is on his latest caper


 Sree Iyer


August 25, 2018

A unique individual in the Indian political circuit, this Rain Man is capable of making money rain by conjuring various schemes to loot public money and is on his latest caper

A native of the Land of Vedas (LOV), this immaculately-clad-in-white politician with leftist leanings in his early years and then pivoting to greedy-as-heck-capitalism, is known to be one of the best fundraisers for the party he associates himself with. Now all the politicians from this land of Vedas, located where the three seas meet wear only white so we will be more specific – this politician has a suave exterior for the most part, uses this to charm many a lady journalist (who are perhaps turned off by the crude exertions of the Ganges belt politicians) into a web of intrigue from which there is no escape. Riches are periodically showered only for glowing encomiums to be written as a quid-pro-quo.

Potential revealed in 1996 elections

Another day, another new three-letter party with the letter M as the middle letter took birth in the LOV. Many a disgruntled politician from the Grand Old Party (GOP) of India left to join this new entity. Formed barely weeks before the 1996 elections, the party needed massive finances to compete against the entrenched rivals. The leader of the party was well respected as a GOP troubleshooter and was now venturing out on his own. But money was tight and GOP was squeezing him hard.  Enter the Rain Man. For those unfamiliar with the phrase Rain Man, it means a man who can make it rain – not those who can sing Megh Malhar or Amruta varshini but an individual who can make it rain money.

Rain Man promised this ex-GOP Thalaivar that he will get him Rs.5000 crores in a year (that was a large sum in 1996-7) and to prove his seriousness, gave Rs.400 crores to contest the 1996 elections. How did Rain Man make Rs.400 crores? It is widely believed that a certain LOV based bank was squeezed of its capital (yes the hard earned money of the long-suffering Indian denizen) and used for “better” purposes.

1996 elections threw up a hung verdict. The GOP, unable to shake off a wily Chanakya decided to commit hara-kiri, just to ensure his downfall, despite a stellar economic performance. The GOP which is essentially a party of touts was starved of its oxygen when Chanakya dismantled the license raj and was only too happy to see his back. With no clear leader in sight and an aborted 13-day dalliance with power by the largest party, it was time for creating a coalition government. LOV had another party (also with M as its middle initial) whose head honcho knew that he could not become the Prime Minister (PM) of this motley assemblage. But he did enough to ensure that his LOV rival, the ex-GOP Thalaivar did not become the PM either, casting his lot with a neighbor who suddenly found himself in the PM chair with just a handful of MPs!

Back to Rain Man and his promise of Rs.5000 crores in one year – The new PM was “persuaded” to part with a “Money making” Ministry to the Rain Man and he did indeed deliver on his promise! A new template was being created that would carry on for several more years…

An unexpected win in 2004

Rain Man did not think that the GOP would storm back to power in 2004 and therefore contributed just a few hundred crores to the coffers of GOP for fighting elections. Rain Man, thanks to his reputation, was quick to re-join the new dispensation but not before swallowing his pride and coming to the unfortunate reality that he had to pay obeisance to the first family of the GOP. The name, as they say, goes a long way in India’s emotion-filled politics.

Midas touch

The next four years can be considered as a golden era in the art of making it rain. Rain Man was given carte blanche and he made full use of this opportunity to not just fill the party’s coffers but his own too. No deal was too small and no sector sacrosanct. All that could be looted was and then some – not just banks but even profitable public institutions were plundered. Officials who stood in the way were brushed aside – some even foisted with false cases. The goal was to enrich and get enriched.

2009 elections and the need for money

Most of GOP’s performance in the 2004-09 period was more due to the good work done by the previous government (of 1999-2004) and therefore GOP was not sure it would come back to power. The party treasurer sounded the alarm and said that mammoth amounts of money were needed to “convince” partners and keep the coalition intact and get it over the line. Rain Man chipped in with a cool 12,000 crores and win the GOP did (although many cried foul over alleged tampering of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs)). The deed was done and GOP based coalition was in for another five years. Then all the scams started coming out, making the populace furious with the ruling dispensation. The writing was on the wall – the GOP was going to lose in 2014. So what did Rain Man do?

Who did Rain Man support in 2014?

Reliable sources indicate that Rain Man foresaw the result and decided to fund the opposite coalition to the tune of Rs.6,000 crores! Establishing this is going to be difficult but one can see from the reluctance of the current government that there was perhaps a tacit agreement put in place. Why else would Rain Man roam free, when most of his scams have been proved beyond doubt? More importantly was the pledge Na Khaunga Na Khaane doongabroken even before the current government started ruling?

2019 – Rain Man’s last chance?

The Demonetisation may have hurt the common man but it hurt the smaller, regional parties run by fiefdoms even more. Much of the loot was in the form of currency, which instantly became worthless on November 8, 2016. Caught with truckloads of cash, attempts to put them in Nepal’s banks with some “agreements” with willing partners in the Nepali government were scuttled, leading some cheftians to froth at the mouth at the “injustice” being done. Bottom line, even with everyone ganging up against the ruling coalition, there is no money to fight the 2019 polls. Enter the Rain Man.

Reliable sources from the capital of LOV who want to stay anonymous have said that the Rain Man has a plan of raising up to Rs.50,000 crores to fund the 2019 electioneering for the opposition, provided they agree to elect him the PM, should the motley crew get a majority. The money may not be in India now but the diabolical plan of the Rain Man is to work deals with rupee-rich brokers (many of whom are implicated in stock market scams but roam free) by trading assets abroad in exchange for hard cash at the time of elections. A reverse-hawala move. How is this possible, you ask? See the figure below:

How Rain Man will bring money in

Rain Man’s money is locked up in various places and in order to unlock it, some “harmless” events can be staged to make the whole transaction look legit –

Rain Man holds about 30% stake in Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX) and about 40% in the National Stock Exchange (NSE) through benamis. Say NSE is merged with MCX orMCX is merged with the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE)

If either of the above events happen, then Rain Man can book the money. Money will be released from Portfolio Management Services (PMS) abroad into Global Brokers based out of either Mauritius or Cyprus / Cayman Islands/ Singapore/ St. Kitts Island. For a 30% discount, local brokers in India (who are sitting on piles of cash) will sell through Non-Banking Finance Corporations (NBFC)s. The cash will then be available for distribution to the coalition partners. There will be an upfront payment, a commitment of sorts on both sides and the remaining will be done upon election of Rain Man as the Primer Ministro (PM in Spanish). Once this is set in motion, then there will be a lot of activity in the Stock Market and effecting a crash can be done almost at will.

Stock Market crash imminent?

With the use of Participatory Notes, Rain Man can cause a crash in the Stock Market, giving heads up to the brokers so they can move in for the kill to pick up the good stocks at low prices. If the crash were to be timed around Deepavali (Oct-Nov) and the middle class sees its holdings in Systematic Investment Plans (SIP) go up in smoke, it will be depressed and will look to blame the party in power. Kill two birds with one stone!

Will the government act?

The investigative agencies know who the Rain Man is… Every day he roams free, he is scheming and putting pieces in place. There are enough transgressions of law by this individual that they can throw the book at him and put him in jail, and take their sweet time unearthing plot after plot. If the present Government does not take this step, it runs the risk of losing the 2019 election with disastrous consequences for its top leadership. Will they? Only time will tell.

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Sree Iyer

An inventor and out-of-the-box thinker, Sree Iyer has 37 patentsin the areas of Hardware, Software, Encryption and Systems. 

When Palestinian Blood Isn’t Equal

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:Recently, the human rights organization AGPS published a report documenting 3,840 cases of Palestinians killed since the beginning of the Syrian war in 2011 – nearly four times the number of those killed during the six years of the first intifada (December 1987-September 1993). The circumstances of the deaths were shelling, shooting, or torture in the interrogation rooms of prisons throughout Syria. Mahmoud Abbas remained silent and did not condemn Bashar Assad or Iran. Palestinian blood in the West Bank and Gaza appears to be worth far more than the blood of Palestinians elsewhere in the world. This is because Palestinians who are killed by IDF fire serve as a bulwark against Israel, whether by the Arab states or by the Western world... Read more

When Palestinian Blood Isn’t Equal

By Dr. Edy Cohen, August 24, 2018

August 23, 2018

The social credit system: China’s tool for moral education


Interview with Rogier Creemers (via Young China Watchers)

The aim of China's social credit system, as Rogier Creemer of Leiden University sees it, is "to ensure that people who behave in a sincere and trustworthy way in society are incentivized to do so." In this interview, the postdoctoral scholar in the Law and Governance of China describes the current state of the social credit system and its intended uses for government oversight and moral education.


Young China Watchers (YCW): What are some common misnomers about how China’s social credit system works?    

Rogier Creemers (RC): There are several areas of sloppiness generally in reporting on the social credit system. Firstly, conflating Ant Financial’s Sesame Credit system with that of the government’s social credit system. The Sesame Credit system is a combination of a loyalty scheme and user-rating system on a private-trading platform. No one is mandated to have a Sesame Credit account and the Sesame Credit system is actually not punitive. Whilst it does generate a score and having a higher score does entitle you to some rewards, there is not necessarily a mechanism of punishment there that institutes sanctions for people with lower scores. The only thing they don’t get is access to the higher-tiered rewards in the same way that if I don’t have a Gold card with my airline, I can’t get into the airport lounge.

Then there is the whole idea of scoring, which is a key part of the Sesame Credit system. As far as I’ve been able to ascertain, at the national level there is no scoring dynamic. The elements of the social credit system at the moment that are working are in essence, binary mechanisms. There are by now numerous blacklists, for quite a few major policy areas, the most important of which is the Supreme People’s Court blacklist for people who don’t comply with legal judgments and fines against them. So either you are on a blacklist or you are not.

YCW: In the media, China’s social credit system has been routinely condemned as “Orwellian.” But is the system all negative or are there positive sides to a state-run social credit system?

RC: The fact is that this system has been designed to solve actual problems confronting many individual Chinese people. The beginnings of the system originate at a time when the government is starting to pay increasing attention to problems of legal compliance that originated when China made its transition from a controlled economy to a market economy. It was found that the existing legal system did not have the wherewithal to provide a sufficient deterrent against these issues.

So the social credit system is in many ways a sort of moralistic, paternalistic system that essentially acts as an amplifier on existing laws and regulations to ensure that people who behave in a sincere and trustworthy way in society are incentivized to do so and people who do not are disincentivised from doing so.

YCW: In your paper, “China’s Social Credit System: An Evolving Practice of Control”, you argued that the concept of a social credit system in China aligns well with Chinese historical concepts of law and governance. Can you elaborate on this?

RC: The most important element is that morality is an essential part of governance. The idea that government has a key role to play in the moral education in a rather paternalistic sense of the Chinese individual has been part and parcel of Chinese politics for the last two millennia or so.

We find that the social credit system slots very well in that tradition. It is not just about doing things that are lawful or unlawful. It is about doing things that are right and incentivising things that are right. But right is not something that people get to sort out for themselves. It doesn’t call upon individual moral autonomy, rather it calls upon obeisance to, and compliance with, a certain state-defined version of the good.

YCW: How would you describe the relationship between China’s state-backed social credit initiatives and those of private companies, such as Sesame Credit?

RC: This operates on a couple of levels. On one level, to what extent is there collaboration? To what extent is there data-sharing? The extent to which Ant Financial shares data with the government is really an empirical question that you cannot satisfactorily answer without having your own intelligence service, or without very significant disclosure from Ant Financial, which so far we don’t have.

If it is assumed that wholesale data-sharing is taking place, one question which I always would have from a skeptical point of view is: to what end? Governments everywhere around the world, even in China, need to be strategic about the use of scarce resources. And maybe tracking everything on mass raw data about what everyone is doing all the time might turn out to not be very useful.

What we do know however is that there’s a lot of data that does go in the other direction. We know that if you’re on a number of blacklists, for example the Supreme People’s Court blacklist, you can’t engage in luxury consumption. The rationale behind that is, if you default on a judgment, particularly a financial judgment— how could you pay for expensive plane tickets or hotels? A similar agreement between government and private companies exists for Alibaba’s platform and for DiDi’s recruitment of DiDi drivers.

YCW: Is there a role to play for social credit systems in regulating the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) state bureaucracy and their public service?

RC: The Chinese government’s answer to that question is absolutely. If you look at the first section of the key 2014 document, “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System 2014-2020”, it’s about using social credit mechanisms to provide oversight on government. I do think this is part of a bigger trend where we’re seeing the birth of a strategic nexus between the central government and China’s large technology companies. One big part of what they’re trying to do is bring in more effective means for local government oversight.

The central leadership seems to believe that technology will allow it to overcome the old problems of “the mountains being high and the emperor being far away” that have plagued Chinese administrations for 2,000 years. So I think the use of social credit systems for government oversight is something we’re very much going to see.

YCW: Your research area is relatively new in academia. As China continues to make advances in technology and governance, what kind of new research disciplines will be needed in China studies/Sinology? And what advice do you have for students or young professionals seeking to focus on those disciplines?

RC: There are a couple of Sinological skills that I think are essential in trying to figure out what the Chinese government is doing. One of them is the simple art of reading documents. We’ve come to a point where China studies has been incredibly social-scientised; it’s become about quantitative data, fieldwork, and so on. I believe it needs to be complemented by reading documents. Very often we don’t want to believe what documents say because we believe they are mere propaganda or they’re never candid, but I simply don’t think that’s true.

The CCP is an organization of nearly 90 million people. The way that the Party communicates to its own membership tell us enormously important things about what they’re on about. You also need to spend the time and effort to conduct a full post-mortem on the document. Where does it come from? Who’s written it? Where does terminology come from? Where did it originate? When was it picked up at senior levels? Has it morphed? It’s perhaps not a very sexy way of China-watching, but I do believe it’s essential. One example of a very interesting young scholar doing this is Samantha Hoffman, who looks at the social credit system as part of a bid to automate social management, building on a diligent study of decades of government documents, reports and studies. 

Together with that there is great work to be done in some of the most innovative computer-based forms of research. For example, Shazeda Ahmed, who is doing a doctorate on social credit at Berkeley, has been using very innovative digital methods to get more interesting information on the functioning of the social credit system.

August 21, 2018


Aug 14, 2018


Facebook has released Digital Diplomacy on Facebook, a best-practices guide showcasing the social platform as an ideal place for countries to leverage their soft power assets. 

As Facebook already serves as a connector for many state and non-state actors across the world, the guide features tools for engagement, tips for creating authentic audiovisual content and ideas to facilitate the public's access to content.

"Facebook provides a window into Foreign Ministries, Embassies, and the diplomatic world that did not previously exist," explains the guide. "We give diplomats an opportunity to showcase their work and their countries—from its economic strengths to its natural beauty—and speak directly with people of different backgrounds."

You can find the guide in its entirety here.




On 21 June officials from across the US Department of Defense appeared before the House Armed Services Committee's military personnel subcommittee to warn of the Chinese threat to the US’ technological and industrial base. 

"We must get within the decision loops of our adversaries," the group said. "We must increase the speed and efficiency at which we educate, invent, adapt, prototype and demonstrate to respond to current and future threats to ensure and preserve our dominance in the field." 

"They want to develop weapons systems that strike farther, faster, harder and more precisely as a means to erode the traditional pillars of U.S. military strength and challenge the United States in all warfare domains." 
Anthony M. Schinella, national intelligence officer for military issues at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence

"Chinese industrial policies of economic aggression, such as investment-driven technology transfer and illegal intellectual property theft, pose a multifaceted threat to our entire national security innovation base." 
Eric Chewning, deputy assistant secretary of defense for manufacturing and industrial base policy 


China is certainly closing the gap military and is rapidly growing its capability on multiple fronts. However as pointed out in a recent The New Republic analysis piece, there is some question as to whether they currently pose the full extent of the threat they have been made out to be. 

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Beijing’s military expenditure could overtake America’s by the mid-2030s. 

However, until China can exert military force to the same extent as the US, it will not be a true equal; at present the US is fighting terrorist organizations in at least 14 countries and, as of last year, had special operations forces deployed in 149 countries—roughly three-quarters of the world’s total. 

“Most of the military modernisation underway in China corresponds to achieving the types of capabilities the United States has already attained,” Cortez Cooper of the RAND Corporation said in February. 



Earlier in June an image appeared on Chinese online news portals and social media that appeared to show a full-scale model or technology demonstrator of what could become the first sixth-generation fighter, Aviation Industry Corporation of China’s Dark Sword. It is believed that the aircraft will be highly manoeuvrable, supersonic, and unmanned, with intention for use as an air superiority or deep-strike platform. Given current US capability, especially the patchy history of the F-35 so far, the deployment of such a jet could prove a game-changer.


China’s first Type 55 cruiser was launched in June last year. While it does not pose any significant threat to the US and its naval interests in itself, the fact that six more Type 55 are under construction at China’s state-owned shipyards may do. The US can field ships of equal if not greater capability than the Type 55, but there is some doubt as to whether it could, if required, keep up with the pace of Chinese shipbuilding. Given Chinese interest in dominating the South China Sea, the country’s ability to soon field a mature fleet of advanced warships should give other naval interest pause for thought. 


Meaning ‘assassin’s mace’, the systems the Chinese refer to as shashoujian can be used as the prelude to an attack, giving the advantage of surprise to the attacker over a foe that may be technologically superior. The most prevalent of these systems seemingly being developed in China are those targeting objects in space. Since its first successful anti-satellite missile test in 2007, China has been further developing systems that could allow it to bring down or damage satellites. Chinese hackers have reportedly infiltrated the US weather satellite system and in the past decade, two non-military US satellite systems have suffered glitches as a result of hacking attacks – although the attacks have not been attributed to any nation. The potential for disruption of vital satellite support systems should certainly be a concern for the US. 




Prior to taking over the US Indo-Pacific Command on 30 May, four-star Admiral Philip Davidson appeared before a Senate committee. Referring to China’s ongoing development of forward operating bases on manmade islands in the South China Sea, he made the following statement.

“China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the US.”

The military is not adverse to using hyperbole and scare tactics to squeeze a few extra dollars out of Congress, of course, but in this case there are real signs that power in the region is shifting to Beijing. 

Geopolitical analysts have long feared that the race between the US and China for strategic military and economic supremacy in the South China Sea, as well as multiple disputes over territory and sovereignty – China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Taiwan all lay claim to the Spratly islands, for example – will escalate beyond political posturing and into direct military action.

Recently, the situation has become ominous. In March, China sent a 40-ship flotilla, including its only native-built aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, to the South China Sea. The following month, reports came out that Beijing had installed electronic jamming equipment on two of its outposts in the Spratly islands. 

Despite President Xi Jinping’s assurances in 2015 that he would never seek to militarise the islands, China now operates three 10,000ft runways there, in addition to aircraft hangars, bunkers, military housing and deep-water piers for ships. 


Located at the crux of where the Pacific and Indian Oceans meet, the South China Sea is one of the most hotly contested geopolitical regions on Earth. A critical thoroughfare for the global economy, nearly a third of all maritime trade – worth a staggering $5.3tn last year – passes through it.

Beijing has drawn a so-called ‘nine-dash line’ over the South China Sea, a territorial claim stretching 200 miles south and east from the province of Hainan, backed by island-building and naval patrols. 

The line would theoretically give China control over a zone that caters for almost 40% of the global trade in liquefied natural gas, one that is home to an estimated 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

In October 2015, the US challenged Chinese hegemony by sailing a destroyer within 12 nautical miles of the artificial islands, the first in a series of actions planned to assert freedom of navigation. 

The following July, in a case brought by the Philippines, an arbitral tribunal ruled China has no legal basis to claim "historic rights" within its nine-dash line, a decision rejected by Taiwan and Beijing.


Speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference on 2 June, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis spoke out against China’s strategy of “intimidation and coercion” in the region, including the deployment of anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, electronic jammers, and, more recently, the landing of nuclear-capable bombers at Woody Island.

“What China is winning is de facto control of nearly the entire South China Sea, including all activities and resources in it, despite the other surrounding Southeast Asian states' respective legal rights and entitlements under international law,” Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, told Nikkei Asian Review.


In response to China's actions, the US has stepped up its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities in the region, beginning with the deployment of two $180m MQ-4C Titon drones.

Built by Northrop Grumman and based on the RQ-4 Global Hawk platform used by the US Air Force, the high altitude, long range MQ-4C Triton platform has a wingspan of 131ft, weighs 14,628kg, and is installed with 360° electro-optical sensors capable of tracking maritime targets from 60,000ft.

The MQ-4C Triton incorporates a reinforced airframe and wing, de-icing and lighting protection systems and sophisticated sensor suites, allowing the platform to track ships over vast distances.

“During surveillance missions using Triton, navy operators may spot a target of interest and order the aircraft to a lower altitude to make positive identification,” says Mike Mackey, Northrop Grumman’s Triton UAS programme director. “The wing’s strength allows the aircraft to safely descend, sometimes through weather patterns, to complete this manoeuvre.”

The Triton can fly more than 24 hours at a time and has an operational range of 8,200 nautical miles.


The data collected by the two drones will be fed back to ground stations at Naval Station Mayport in Florida, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington, or to P-8A Poseidon submarine hunters.

“One of the main reasons the Navy decided to fund Triton was to have that teaming arrangement, to be able to communicate back and forth between P-8s and the Triton aircraft,” explains Mackey. “You want to give the P-8 the ability to perform the anti-submarine warfare mission while tying to high-altitude ISR mission.

“One of the things we’ll do is pass information back and forth between the two aircraft and the situational awareness of the fleet will be enhanced. Both aircraft have the ability to do chat, so both crews will be able to communicate back and forth.”


The first Triton squadron, Unmanned Patrol Squadron 19, will arrive at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam this summer. Once the drone reaches initial operational capability in 2021, the navy plans to deploy a further two aircraft in Guam, with the four Titans making up one 24-hour, seven-day orbit.

The use of drones in theatre or for ISR has its fair share of critics, however. 

Military Watch magazine points out that US drones active in Syria and Crimea have recently proven vulnerable to jamming from Russian electronic warfare units and that it remains to be seen whether drones will be able to survive near Chinese military facilities and stay reliable in the event of open conflict.


Such a scenario still seems unlikely. So far the US has restricted its response to Chinese operations in the South China Sea to ‘freedom of navigation operations’, the most recent conducted on 27 May. 

This was followed by US military aircraft flying over the Paracel Islands in early June, a move that prompted a countercharge of “militarisation'” against the US by China's Foreign Ministry.

At the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore in June, Mattis issued the following warning to Beijing: “There are consequences that will continue to come home to roost, so to speak, with China, if they do not find the way to work more collaboratively with all of the nations.”

As tensions continue to bubble and both China and the US deploy more advanced equipment in the region, it remains to be seen whether technology will give either side the upper hand - and who will get there first

Beijing’s Grand Plan to Rejuvenate Gwadar

  17 Aug 2018 04.04pm

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s key to unlocking the great potential the $900 billion Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) fell into his hands after the country secured the $54 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) agreement.

Plans for turning the Pakistani port of Gwadar into one of the world’s largest transit and transhipment cargo facilities include building nine, multipurpose berths along 3.2 kilometre of seafront to the east of its existing ones.

The infrastructure project, the largest unilateral direct investment into another country, connects Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang region by land and ocean routes to the Arabian Sea.

In September 2017 private investment house China Pak Investment Corporation bought the 3.6 million square foot International Port City and will build a $150 million gated community for the anticipated influx of 500,000 Chinese professionals that will live in Gwadar by 2022 and work in its proposed new financial district.

Beijing has also poured investment into Pakistan’s pipelines, railways, highways, power plants, industrial areas and mobile networks to advance the geographical mid-way link for BRI.



In return, Chinese inland manufacturing cities have secured better links to shipping lanes and newly made free trade zones through railways, port renovation and blockchain technology.

Out of the 39 proposed CPEC projects, 19 are either already completed or underway, at a cost to China of over $18.5 billion since 2015.  

The ‘belt’ element - the railways - of CPEC is already largely in place after decades of construction work.

The road – the shipping lanes – hinges on Gwadar, with China looking to redraw and realign the trading map to ensure its economic growth.



The BRI could, if successful, guarantee that China has a dominant say over world trade to fuel its booming domestic market.

However, there has been a setback.



An initial Chinese plan to create an economic corridor connecting China to Myanmar, Bangladesh and India – the BCIM, has stalled.

India has hesitated and declined China’s offer to be included in the BRI.

This is primarily due to its concerns over China’s intentions and the possibility the BRI may outmanoeuvre India’s regional trade.

India has also rejected any overtures to participate in CPEC because the planned route passes through India-claimed but Pakistani-occupied Kashmir, the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent.

During the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in June, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi refused to endorse the BRI.

Without the support of the subcontinent’s largest country, the BRI routes have split further apart, making the 2,800-kilometre corridor offered by CPEC China’s fastest and safest route to the shipping lanes of the Indian Ocean.

Since the signing of an MoU between Pakistan and China in 2013, the port of Gwadar has been operated by the China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC) to deepen economic and trade links.

As the cornerstone of CPEC, the significance of the MoU was evident in the then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s expressive claim that relations between the two countries was “higher than the Himalayas, deeper than the oceans and sweeter than honey”.



CPEC, from Pakistan’s perspective, is designed to help the country utilize its proximity to the resource-rich trading routes of the Middle East, Central Asia and East Africa and utilize its coastline.

The former fishing town of Gwadar, with a current population of approximately 100,000, may be about to become South Asia’s biggest maritime hub, which in five years will be able to handle 13 million tonnes of cargo and is projected to increase this figure to 400 million by 2030.

Only time will tell whether the CPEC, the BRI and China’s plans to realign global trade and the supply chain will be a success for every player involved.