China and Pakistan Relations via the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

By Lieutenant Colonel Youngsuk Lee, Army of the Republic of Korea, US Central Command: Strategy Plans and Policy Directorate; Combined Strategic Analysis Group
7 May 2020


The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a large-scale Chinese initiative to bolster economic and geopolitical ties between China and Pakistan. Economic and strategic motivations for China include the potential of Pakistan as an emerging economy and the opportunities for expanded influence in the region. Economic and strategic motivations for Pakistan include the prospect of economic development and political stability.  Opportunities and challenges of the CPEC are considered, as well as an outlook of the CPEC’s impact on the region and recommendations for the US and CENTCOM.

Key Points:

  • CPEC’s main purpose is economic cooperation between China and Pakistan, but it also supports political and strategic goals.
  • CPEC’s effects can be evaluated through a multi-sectoral approach, including economic, strategic, and security perspectives.
  • CPEC may provide both positive and negative consequences, but it is likely to favor China by expanding its influence and leverage in CENTCOM AOR.


After decades of robust diplomatic and military relations, CPEC is China and Pakistan’s first large-scale attempt to bolster economic ties.1 International analysts have differing opinions regarding CPEC. Some assess this project as not just an economic cooperation plan to improve both countries’ infrastructure and trade, but as part of China’s grand strategic scheme to be the premier Great Power. The CPEC stirs controversy because analysts struggle to predict the full scope of the project’s impacts on China and Pakistan. However, the CPEC is undoubtedly one of the largest combined projects to provide not only economic advantages, but also generates a socio and geopolitical impact in South Asia.

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The opinions and conclusions expressed herein are those of a number of international officers within the Combined Strategic Analysis Group (CSAG) and do not necessarily reflect the views of United States Central Command, not of the nations represented within the CSAG or any other governmental agency.