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Opinion

Pakistan's cautionary tale of digital dependence on China

Beijing is successfully exploiting the need for connectivity in developing countries

| Pakistan
A model of the Beidou satellite network, pictured in Beijing in September 2020: China's navigation system, an alternative to GPS, provides both civilian and military capabilities to Pakistan.   © Reuters

Jonathan E. Hillman is director of the Reconnecting Asia Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. and author of "The Digital Silk Road: China's Quest to Wire the World and Win the Future."

"The future is data," Pakistani President Arif Alvi said recently. "Everything is going to be digital... e-commerce, e-agriculture, e-finance, e-health." But as Pakistan turns to China's Digital Silk Road for those essential functions and more, its quest for development is looking more like dependency.

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