If you live in Pakistan, you already know about CPEC or you’ve seen all those posters about “Long Live Pak-China Friendship” while driving around. It’s very easy to get charmed by China for Pakistan, especially given the investment in Gwadar and not-so-favorable policies towards India from time to time. But shouldn’t we be a bit more cautious? After all, this significantly impacts the economy among other things.
Recent statistics show that Pakistan has issued over 15 million visas to Chinese citizens for CPEC.
Yup. 15 million. Which means that over 15 million people from China will or already have visited Pakistan by 2020. Now you could make the case that this is only because of the strong relationship that Pakistan and China have with each other, built upon years of understanding. But when one looks at “China” and “Pakistan”, on the surface, it seems rather improbable that Chinese love Pakistan so much.
But why? Why does China love Pakistan so much that it’s willing to invest $46 billion for CPEC?
There is a lot that’s already been discussed on this topic so there’s no point in bringing that up. Besides, MangoBaaz isn’t a platform for political analysis either. But there are some points that haven’t been discussed much that should be at least mentioned.
1. China needs a place to keep its criminals busy
All CPEC projects funded by China have Chinese labor working on them. If you take a closer look at their backgrounds, you’ll find that all of them have one thing in common besides the fact that they’re Chinese: they have a criminal background. Turns out, to avoid overpopulation of Chinese prisons, these criminals are being exported to Pakistan. Guess they’re exporting more than just manufacturing over in China these days… Turns out, it’s cheaper for Chine to send these criminals to Pakistan as laborers than to keep them in prisons.
2. Residential rental prices in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi have skyrocketed after CPEC projects started
Since the CPEC projects started, residential rental prices went up by 14% in Lahore, 12% in Islamabad and 9% in Karachi. Oh boy. Also, some of you may already know, but if you go around Lahore, Islamabad or Karachi, any house with barbed wire on top of the gate and a police car standing outside with policeman (sleeping inside) is very likely occupied by Chinese. Who’s fronting the bill for their security? We’re sure the salary of the policemen isn’t coming from that $46 billion…
3. There’s a BIG demand for Chinese languages courses
厕所在哪里 - where's the toilet
There’s definitely been a rise in the number of OLX, newspaper, Facebook ads for people offering Chinese language courses. And that’s mainly due to the fact that for every 4th Chinese person living in a house, there is one translator required according to the CPEC contract. So, let’s do some rough math. If there are 15 million people coming from China in the next 5 years, that’s roughly 3,750,000 translators. Hot damn, sure as hell is a good time to start learning some Mandarin or Cantonese. Oh also, the average Chinese translator makes PKR 80,000 per month – who even needs a college education right? Wonder where these salaries are also coming from? Hmmm.
4. There’s a big increase in Pakistani-Chinese babies (all things aside, they’re really cute).
Sources from the Embassy of China in Pakistan say that the amount of requests for Q1 (long term reunion visas) has gone up by 45%. It’s definitely not a stretch to assume that inter-racial marriages between Chinese and Pakistanis are on the rise. In talking to a doctor from Lahore(who wishes to remain anonymous), there are at least two Pakistani-Chinese babies born a day. Could this possibly also be a plan for some Chinese to get away from the one-child policy too?
These are just a few things to consider as we think more about CPEC and whether it will do more good than harm. As it stands, cement stocks, paint stocks, automobile stocks keep going up but other socio-economic factors in Pakistan seem to be adversely affected. How will the the stock market fare as a consequence of CPEC? Guess we’ll have to see.