In this episode we look at Gwadar port, a deep-sea port located in the Balochistan province in southwest Pakistan, along a strategic trade route in the Arabian Sea. A Chinese state-owned company, Overseas Ports Holding Company, signed a 40-year lease for the port in 2014 to advance China’s economic and trade interests in the region.
Gwadar Port Development Failures
The Gwadar port has a history of foreign ownership, but has never been developed into a fully functional port. Foreign countries had occupied the port until Pakistan purchased it in 1958; however, it was never able to fully develop the port despite attempts in the 1990s. Gwadar remained a poor fishing village until China inked its 40-year lease in 2014.
China’s Lease of Gwadar Port
China has strong economic interests in the Gwadar port. Up to 82% of China’s crude imports and 30% of its natural gas is transported through the route on which Gwadar port is located. The Overseas Ports Holding Company leased operative components of the port in 2014. It is building a liquid natural gas pipeline and other features to bolster Gwadar’s economic and trade prospects. These investments could benefit millions in the area.
The Gwadar port is a piece of the larger China-Pakistan economic corridor, which is a strategic route of pipelines, railroads and highways running from Gwadar and other Arabian Sea ports in Pakistan into China.
Balancing India and Tensions with Balochi Separatists
China’s purchase of the Gwadar port has geopolitical implications. Some speculate that the China-Pakistan economic corridor is a means to balance against their mutual enemy, India. Furthermore, Pakistan is raising up to 10,000 soldier—including 2,000 troops near the Gwadar port—to protect the entire corridor from threats from the Balochi separatist group. A Balochi attack targeting oil tankers in the Gwadar port in March 2015 illustrates the group’s threat to future port operations.
Take a look at some of our favorite articles that we came across while researching this topic:
- Chinese State Firm Takes Control of Strategically Vital Gwadar Port, Ankit Panda, The Diplomat
- Gwadar, Pakistan — the most important city you’ve never heard of, Post Staff Report, New York Post
- 5 Reasons Gwadar Port Trumps Chabahar, Muhammad Daim Fazil, The Diplomat