China has proposed its most expensive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to date with a $58 billion railway system that would connect Pakistan to Western China to further reduce Western trade dependence, says a report.
The $57.7 billion plan was reviewed by analysts from the state-owned China Railway First Survey and Design Institute Group Co Ltd, which has determined that despite its hefty price tag the investment is worth it, according to the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.
The 3,000-km railway line will connect Pakistan’s port of Gwadar to the Chinese city of Kashgar in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and has the potential to reshape not only trade but geopolitics, according to the proposal’s review board.
The proposed railway will link China’s western regions with the Arabian Sea, bypassing the Strait of Malacca and reducing dependence on the South China Sea, it said.
The study also pointed out the railway’s potential impact on neighbouring countries, such as India, and there could be disagreements or delays in decision-making related to the project.
The Institute Group Co Ltd team, led by its deputy director of capital operations Zhang Ling, said in its study that if the project is taken up, it will be BRI’s most expensive transport infrastructure.
“Despite the cost, the project had the potential to reshape trade and geopolitics across the Eurasian continent and should be supported,” according to the research team.
“The government and financial institutions [in China] should provide strong support, increase coordination and collaboration among relevant domestic departments, strive for the injection of support funds and provide strong policy support and guarantees for the construction of this project,” the report said.
China-Pakistan railway project worth $57.7bn gets green light in feasibility study 🚈
— CPEC Official (@CPEC_Official) April 28, 2023
The institute is one of the largest of its kind in China and has been involved in many major railway projects at home and internationally, including Indonesia’s Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail line.
The feasibility paper argued that connecting the railway with other transport networks in the region including in Iran and Turkey would also provide a more direct route to Europe for Chinese goods, while it could improve Pakistan’s infrastructure.
CPEC 10th anniversary
As this year marks the 10th anniversary of the China-proposed BRI and the launch of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China and Pakistan should promote the high-quality development of the corridor and make it a model project for the joint construction of BRI, Chinese Premier Li Qiang said in a phone conversation with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday.
Li said that China and Pakistan are good neighbours, friends and brothers.
“Both sides should maintain high-level exchanges and promote greater progress in bilateral cooperation in various fields, and jointly promote the construction of a closer China-Pakistan community of shared future in the new era,” Li said.
Sharif said that Pakistan and China are “ironclad” brothers, and the destinies of the two countries are closely linked.