In case you missed it: Chinese firms have brokered a deal to construct two nuclear reactors for the Chashma Nuclear Complex in Pakistan. Pakistan, and in particular, Punjab (the state in which the complex can be found) suffers from chronic energy shortages. After a series of rolling black outs this April, the Punjab Chief Minister announced that there was a 6,000 Megawatt gap between the state's electricity production and demand. While not an immediate remedy, increasing the capacity of the Chashma Complex is the only tenable option Punjab has to meet its rising energy needs.
And of course, the Chinese have are happy to help the Punjabis do just that.
The contrast between American and Chinese aid projects is striking. America prefers to buy her friends; Pakistan is one of the largest recipients of American aid money. The Kerry-Lugar Bill provides Pakistan with some $1.5 billion in non-military aid every year, and Pakistani arm purchases often exceed $3 billion on the annum. The problem with buying friends, however, is that we have little control over how they use the money we give them. Much of it disappears as it is passed from hand to hand; that which remains is blatantly misspent.
In contrast, the Chinese eschew money payments. Their preferred method of aid is the modernization of Pakistan's infrastructure. Two nuclear reactors at Chashma, a deep sea port in Gwadar, a university in Islamabad, mines and highways in Balochistan, a gas pipeline leading straight to China - the list is a long one. In contrast to American aid, almost all of these projects are investments that will benefit Chinese businesses as much as they will help the Pakistanis. And unlike cash payments, which are here today and gone tomorrow, China investments are long term endeavors.
The Pakistanis are the friends of America as long as the money keeps flowing. They are friends of the Chinese forever.
Photo Credit: The Diplomat.