Recently there has been a focus on China’s courting of what has been traditionally an U.S. ally, Pakistan. With the massive population and few extractable resources, Pakistan has been working with China to the north to get fossil fuel imports. In fairly rural territory, there has been a good amount of earth moving and road building. The project has literally been called the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Some people are referring to it as the ‘New Silk Road’ as it is a pathway to supply northern Pakistan communities that have households who have never utilized electricity. (It has been estimated that just over four and a half million people in Pakistan are without electricity and it would take at least 4 gigawatts to supply them; this number speaks only to capacity and amount, but not really transportation and distribution logistics.
China sees this as a regional partner that strengthens its position as well as provide a huge market potential for China to see coal and other energy inputs. And it won’t all be about fossil fuels traveling over the road, but there is an intent to utilize. Solar will more than likely be a large player but that requires having a grid to transport the electricity (or settling people near battery storage). Energy is often a strong motivator to diplomatic relations, and it will be interesting to see if this relationship between the two countries effects America’s and Pakistan’s relationship.