The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) seeks to develop Pakistan’s industrial capacity and contribute to its emergence as a trading hub between China and the Middle East in the long run. The deep-sea seaport of Gwadar in the Arabian Sea will play an instrumental role in this respect due to its proximity with the strategic sea-lanes for global energy trade in the Persian Gulf. This article offers a critical analysis of CPEC’s strategic value for Pakistan’s economic development and regional connectivity, especially Gwadar’s valuable role in this
regard. It challenges the prevailing zero-sum narratives on the geopoliticsp of this strategic port within the context of US-China rivalry, while arguing for its geo-economic importance for China, Central Asia, Pakistan and the Gulf states on the basis of a win-win framework. The discussion ahead covers the key challenges and opportunities concerning CPEC, China’s economic profile in Central Asia and the Gulf, and the emerging interest among the Gulf countries for investment in Gwadar. The concluding section focuses on CPEC’s significance for China, Pakistan and regional stakeholders and Gwadar’s future potential as a regional trading hub and a possible strategic outpost for China.