A Pakistani soldier looks on during the opening of a trade project at the China-backed Gwadar port on November 13, 2016. Photo: AFP/ Aamir Qureshi
A Pakistani soldier looks on during the opening of a trade project at the China-backed Gwadar port on November 13, 2016. Photo: AFP/Aamir Qureshi

Xi Jinping is all set to sideline the democratically elected representatives and civil servants of the people of Pakistan so as to expand his direct influence over the political and economic processes of the country.

Since 2016, Xi, the general secretary of the Communist Party of China has been forcing the Pakistani establishment to put pressure on the government (it was Nawaz Sharif’s government back then) to sideline the Planning Ministry’s role in the implementation and monitoring of the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Xi pushed for the creation of a supra-constitutional CPEC Authority that would freelance the management of the predatory infrastructure and power-generation projects under his direct command.

The proposal was rejected then, but last year it was again presented before the prime minister of the country – now Imran Khan. The reason given was timely completion of the projects.

This time the prime minister is a full-fledged puppet of the military establishment, and therefore it was easier than before to manipulate the law to fulfill Xi’s desire to take over the Planning Ministry of Pakistan, and in future the country itself.

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan ahead of their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in 2019. Photo: AFP

I consider Pakistan’s Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives one of the most crucial state institutions, whose senior bureaucrats could implicitly scrutinize and resist Xi’s draconian CPEC scheme, as they had access to all of the secret documents on the agreement and were involved, directly and indirectly, in the decision-making process.

So long as the reins were under the control of civilian institutions led by representatives of the people and civil servants, thorough accountability of Xi’s master plan at least at some level and at some point in time – if not at once – was possible. Sidelining the civil institutions altogether would allow Xi to play on both sides of the board.

The agreement was so highly confidential that even the secretary of maritime affairs once refused to show it to the Senate Standing Committee on Finance. So one can imagine what an above-the-law sort of deal it must be.

The CPEC Authority was established in October last year using a presidential ordinance (without parliament’s approval) for four months and then was given another four-month extension. But Xi wants permanent control. And now that the establishment has its puppet in the Prime Minister’s House, it is putting all of its efforts into making the Authority more powerful and a permanent part of the constitution by pushing it through parliament.

CPEC Authority Ordinance 2019. -Source: Pakistan Planning Commission website

Since the Authority has come into existence, its chairman has been a retired lieutenant-general.

Xi doesn’t want the Belt and Road Initiative or any of its components to be held accountable or face resistance. He knows that his Chinese Dream of indoctrination of a majority of free people of the world by 2050 will not be fulfilled if the people of the countries victimized by the BRI come to know about his strategy to destroy their futures and those of their future generations.

The truth is that he is burdening those countries in debt traps while they are already suffering from intense balance-of-payments crises. Xi will slowly poison Pakistan and other poor economies by creating extreme shortages of foreign-exchange reserves. In the end, these countries will have to accept the invasion of their political and economic systems by the Communist Party of China.

Four months ago, an inquiry into the workings of independent power producers (IPPs) took place in which two major coal-fired power-plant projects that were built under the CPEC – Huaneng Shandong Ruyi Energy and Port Qasim Electric Power Company – were found involved in corruption as they had misrepresented interest during construction to loot almost US$226 million from the dollar-strapped Pakistani economy.

The supra-constitutional CPEC Authority will act as the CPC’s subsidiary in Pakistan and will be responsible for conceiving, implementing, expanding, enforcing, controlling, regulating, coordinating, monitoring, evaluating and carrying out all activities related to the CPEC.

Furthermore, it will have the constitutional power to initiate an investigation and impose penalties against any public office holder (including the prime minister and president of Pakistan) or any other person who is directly or indirectly engaged in CPEC-related activities who willfully resist directions, instructions or specified orders of the CPEC Authority.

Even the prime minister’s powers will be limited to what is specified in the CPEC Authority Bill 2020. So he too will have to obey Xi’s commands.

According to a news report (that soon after its publication was mysteriously taken down), the chairman of the Authority – who, as noted above, is a retired lieutenant-general – will co-chair the Joint Cooperation Committee as the democratically elected planning minister will be removed from this position.

The JCC is the main decision-making body of CPEC. It has members from both Pakistan and China. But every year the Chinese officials at the JCC meetings browbeat the Pakistani officials as they review the making of Xi’s version of the East India Company.

As the world moves toward 2050, Xi’s plan of China’s ultimate control of the majority of the emerging-market economies is becoming crystal clear. At the cost of its sovereignty, territorial integrity and freedom of its people, the “selected” government of Pakistan is finding a permanent place in Xi’s basket.

Today he will attempt coup against the Ministry of Planning; next in his playbook could be its Defense Ministry, IT Ministry, Human Rights Ministry, Petroleum Ministry and many more.

Ali Salman Andani

The writer is a journalist and economic and political analyst and columnist for Asia Times and various online and print media outlets. His analysis focuses on economic, political, social and cultural issues, especially those related to corruption, human rights violations, the global market economy, foreign policy, and environmental crises. Find him on Twitter @an_alisalman