The Implications of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor for Pakistan-European Union Relations
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) holds the potential to transform Pakistan along with its turbulent regional environment. In the short run, the multiple networks of infrastructure that the project provides will eventually improve Pakistan-European Union (EU) trade. Moreover, while the CPEC is unlikely to bring an immediate strategic shift in the bilateral dialogue, which is particularly lacking in political dynamics, its long-run promises can help to foster such dynamics. The project, if successful, can help Pakistan to establish a peaceful domestic environment and subsequently promote the country’s fresh image to reverse its softpower losses in Europe and beyond. This paper investigates contemporary Pakistan-EU relations, which have so far attracted little attention from international relations scholars. It presents the bilateral dynamics in the context of the CPEC, which is an unprecedented investment by China in Pakistan. The paper concludes by shedding light on the differences between China’s and the EU’s strategies vis-à-vis Pakistan. Despite the fact that the study focuses on one particular South Asian state, it can serve as a case study for the comparative analysis of China’s and the EU’s presence in third countries, especially those that, like Pakistan, have joined the Belt and Road Initiative.