Pakistan’s province of Baluchistan will sign a deal with China on Wednesday on developing a special economic zone around the deep-sea port of Gwadar.
The 40 year lease will see the government of Baluchistan hand over more than 900 hectares of tax-exempt land as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Moreover, China has been expected to invest $1.6 billion on the economic zone as part of the CPEC , an ambitious $46 billion plan to build roads, railroads, and power plants linking in China with the Arabian Sea.
Contract allocation of land in China Overseas Port Holding Company will be signed in Gwadar on Wednesday.
According to a statement of Baluchistan’s top provincial official on Sunday, contract will enable China to build an export zone and an international airport.
"China has asked us to provide land for building an export processing zone and a modern international airport in Gwadar," Baluchistan Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch told AFP.
Malik Baloch also said that China is also building a road network to bind the zone with the airport and seaport, and the provincial government will provide the land.
Gwadar International Airport will start in the next two months. Pakistan is also set to provide a special security force of between 10,000 and 25,000 to protect the port.
Gwadar port, located 540 km southwest of Karachi, was built in 2007 with technical support from Beijing, and the Chinese financial assistance of about $248 million.
But according to officials, acquiring the land from private owners to build economic zone will take several years and cost the Baluch Government around $62 million.
Some nationalist Baloch accused the Chinese of conspiring with the elite of Pakistan of plundering the resources of the province while doing little to share profits and create jobs for local people.