Techopolitika: Pak-Sino R&D Cooperation via CPEC

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Throughout history, integration between different regions has been a key element in enhancing economic activity and trade. This cooperation has long been facilitated by the diverse means of research and development (R&D) and technology innovations, such as railways, roads, and water & power systems etc. Technological innovation not only widened the possibilities of cultural and economic exchange, but also facilitated and fastened such interactions, promoting cooperation and setting up the bases for the globalized world in which we live today. Similarly, infrastructure investment is one of the main pillars of economic growth. It peps economic activity, generating employment and reducing trade costs, improves productivity and directly supports growth in different sectors in the economy.

In 2013, the President of China, Xi Jinping, announced one of the main projects of its foreign policy – the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) the major global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This ambitious plan seeks to promote regional integration and cooperation through the resignification of the Old Silk Road. OBOR/BRI pursues the development of an economic corridor across Eurasia, by mitigating the infrastructure gap that haunts the continent. The scope of the project, which includes more than 60 countries and guarantees great expenditures, shows up as a turning point in today’s world economic order. Pakistan and China, as the core player in this scenario, progressively becoming the new economic gravitational hubs, escalating its influence in the global politics and ascertaining tighter relations among other nations.

Pakistan enjoys a unique geographical landscape situated at the cross-roads in South Asia, considered as one of the vibrant geostrategic region of the world. In South Asia, there is exceptional Chinese cooperation with Pakistan. China and Pakistan as all weather strategic partners have a history of glorious friendly relations. Both countries always try to make strong these relations through different geo-political, strategic and economic agreements. The Pak-China Economic Corridor (CPEC) is also a key to make strong economic relations of both countries. It is considered to be an extension of China’s proposed 21st century Silk Road initiative and considered a centre for their relations. CPEC long-term project as a major part of the OBOR the global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by the Chinese government, scheduled to complete by 2030. CPEC is a joint project that Beijing and Islamabad agreed to finance through Chinese investments. Pakistan sees China’s initiative as a peace and prosperity developer, and the CPEC as a strengthening to the regional economy. While the project has been welcomed by Greater Eurasia (including Russia, Iran and Central Asia), besides the United Kingdom and Western European Countries. Similarly, for Iran, the OBOR will help to fight its geopolitical isolation from the Western world order. Sri Lanka is also a fundamental station on the Maritime Silk Road, looking at China as an opportunity to distance itself from Western and Indian dependence.

Correspondingly, China’s development is part of an elementary transformation of the global distribution of knowledge capital. State-of-the-art technology and world-class scientists are no longer the prerogative of the developed world. Developing countries are claiming increasing shares not only of world trade, manufacturing, and raw material consumption but also of global knowledge resources, both with regard to highly skilled labor and to corporate R&D. China is enthusiastically competing for these resources. The latest long-term plan reflects Beijing’s desire to address growing domestic social and S&T innovation problems through R&D and to become one of the world’s knowledge hub. China’s emergence as a magnet and now even producer of frontier-level science and high technology demands other countries, particularly Pakistan, to formulate education, research, innovation, and development strategies from the scratch. Though facing substantial challenges in its quest to become a world leader in science, technology and innovation, China offers momentous opportunities both for mutually beneficial cooperation in R&D and for trade of knowledge intensive goods and services. China’s opening to the world, prioritization of science and technology, research and development, education and innovation, and desire to acquire knowledge and technology may offer imperative opportunities and vehicles for the CPEC project to institutionalized cooperation on issues of R&D and global relevance.

In a nutshell, CPEC is a project of major importance; it is one which has enough worth to herald the economics of two nations in particular and the development of whole South Asia in general. Slowly and gradually, China is becoming a global leader in science and technology. China’s ambitions to become a global knowledge center could be an optimistic development providing opportunities by working with China, both bilaterally and within international forums (China-ASEAN Science and Technology Partnership Program), the fields of science and technology, research and development, brought under CPEC, can truly prove to be a game-changer for Pakistan.


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