Expansion of the CPEC

cpec

Tehran wants to build “the golden ring” Statement of Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan

By Andrew
Korybko

The Iranian
Ambassador to Pakistan shared his visionary plans for CPEC+, the neologism
that’s becoming popular in Pakistan nowadays to refer to the expansion of the
China-Pakistan Economic Corridor along different geographic axes such as the
northern (N-CPEC+), western (W-CPEC+), and southern (S-CPEC+) ones.

Turkey’s
Anadolou Agency reported on Ambassador Seyyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini’s lecture
at the Islamabad Strategic Studies Institute (ISSI) earlier this week, which
deserves to be analyzed more in depth.

According
to Ambassador Hosseini, “Establishment of rail network between Gwadar and
Chabahar and its link up to Europe and Central Asia through Iran, will usher
major economic development in the region. On the other hand, construction of
Railway track on Pakistani territory to China, linking the two ports will lead towards
economic development in this region.” In practice, this would fulfill what the
author wrote about W-CPEC+ in his CGTN analysis last April titled “CPEC+ is the
key to achieving regional integration goals“.

In that
piece, he wrote that “Pakistani Prime Minister Khan’s recent visit to Iran saw
the two neighboring countries agreeing to deepen their cooperation with one
another, which could foreseeably evolve to the point of a W-CPEC+ overland
trade route eventually traveling through the Islamic Republic to Islamabad and
Beijing’s partners in Turkey, which could be paired with a parallel maritime
corridor connecting CPEC’s terminal point of Gwadar with the Gulf Kingdoms.”

That’s
exactly what Ambassador Hosseini proposed during his lecture at ISSI (minus the
part about the Gulf Kingdoms), which could revolutionize Iran’s geostrategic
role in the emerging Multipolar World Order and consequently make it one of the
most important countries of China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) if
successfully implemented with time. Not only could this have significant
economic implications, but also significant political ones as well.

The
Ambassador is also quoted by Anadolou Agency as saying that “Countries like
Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Russia and China have the potential to form a new
alliance for better future of the region”. While China and Russia eschew the
term “alliance” to describe their close relations with other countries, the
intent of his words is clear enough in that he’s calling for a strengthened
strategic partnership between all five of those countries. This becomes a
realistic possibility between China, Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey if W-CPEC+ is
completed. As for Russia, it could be brought on board this ambitious
connectivity proposal if W-CPEC+ is expanded to include it via Azerbaijan by
following the path proposed by the North-South Transport Corridor (NSTC) that
those two, Iran, and India are trying to build.

Moreover,
the pioneering of a Russia-Pakistan trade corridor via post-war Afghanistan and
Central Asia (N-CPEC+) could greatly contribute to making Moscow a greater
stakeholder in this CPEC-centric strategic quintet that some have called the
“Golden Ring“. BRI-led Eurasian integration processes are one of the defining
characteristics of contemporary International Relations, and the Golden Ring
could eventually become the centerpiece of these efforts if Ambassador
Hosseini’s W-CPEC+ proposal succeeds, especially if it’s done in parallel with
N-CPEC+.

The five
anchor states of this connectivity vision could be linked to one another and
the states between them (Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, and the Central Asian
Republics) through a multitude of rail and other transport corridors built by
China. Through these means, China would be functioning as the engine of Eurasian
integration and tying all of the involved countries closer together in a
Community of Shared Destiny.

The complex
interdependence that would emerge as a result of this vision would make each
party greater stakeholders in one another’s success, with the construction of
multilateral mega-projects giving their citizens unprecedented economic
opportunities. The CPEC-centric Golden Ring would therefore strengthen
stability in the geostrategic Heartland of Eurasia.

Andrew
Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the
relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road
global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a
frequent contributor to Global Research.

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