The China-Pakistan Friendship Highway stretches more than 1,300 km, crosses through the world’s highest mountain pass and represents billions of dollars in investments in infrastructure development. The road is also a symbol of the growing ties between China and Pakistan. However, for many Pakistanis, the road is nothing more than a one-way street. In recent years, there’s a growing sentiment among Pakistanis that the friendship road has been built to benefit China and not necessarily Pakistan. Many Pakistanis believe that it’s China who is gaining from the road and not Pakistan. And such sentiment is not false since even experts have said that China is just using Pakistan as a pawn to boost its own growth and development.
China needs Pakistan for its ambitious One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, which aims to revive the ancient Silk Route. When the infrastructure is complete, China will gain access to several new markets. China is a manufacturing hub and the road will provide Chinese companies to export their products to more countries around the world. The road will also be used by China to import oil, which it currently gets through the Indian Ocean. Data also reveals that China has more to benefit from the road than Pakistan. Pakistan’s exports to China decreased by 8 percent whereas China’s exports to Pakistan grew 29 percent in 2016.