Pakistan Leases Gwadar port to a State-run Chinese firm for 40 years
Pakistan has leased the operations of its strategic Gwadar port to a State-run Chinese firm, the China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC) for a period of 40 years. COPHC is slated to carry out all the developmental work on the port situated in the Balochistan province of Pakistan. COPHC took over the operations of the port in 2013. Previously, the control of the Gwadar port was with Singapore’s PSA (Port of Singapore Authority) International.
As per the contract, 91% share of revenue collection from gross revenue of terminal and marine operations as well as 85% share from gross revenue of free zone operation will go to the COPHC. The provinces will not be given any share in the revenue collection.
Gwadar Port is a warm-water, deep-sea port situated on the Arabian Sea at Gwadar in Balochistan province of Pakistan. It is located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf just outside the strategically important Strait of Hormuz. It features as the southern Pakistan hub of the $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) plan. It is considered as a vital link between the Chinese One Belt, One Road initiative and the Maritime Silk Road project.
Advantages for China
Gwadar offers China a shortest route to oil-rich West Asia and Africa. China can use the port to transport fuel into north-western China, by transporting oil and gas from the port through pipelines to China’s Xinjiang province. Having Gwadar under its command would change the security dynamics for China. As China’s oil imports increase, it would prefer to insulate its energy transports from the troubled waters of the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea.
Implications for India
Gwadar port offers serious strategic implications for India. Gwadar provides China a key listening post to observe the Indian naval activities around the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Aden. The Gwadar port, if fully operationalised, will wean Pakistan away from near-total dependence on Karachi, which is much closer to India and hence within the Indian military’s strike range. Lease of Gwadar port also helps China to encircle India (String of Pearls) and gain strategic advantage in the region. India has apprehensions that these ports could be used for military purpose as well.