I give priority to the timely completion of the ongoing CPEC projects, says Shehbaz Sharif
BEIJING: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is laying foundation for sustained, indigenous economic modernisation and its growth to connect markets within and across the region is a logical next step.
In an exclusive interview with the Global Times, he spoke on a broad range of topics, including China-Pakistan relations, regional and international situation, CPEC and upcoming 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
Shehbaz talked about attaching great importance to the joint construction of the Belt and Road flagship project, and refuted some countries’ statement that CPEC was a threat. Since its launch in 2013, the CPEC has continued to make rapid and tangible progress. Over the past 10 years, the construction of CPEC has helped Pakistan reduce the bottlenecks caused by past power shortages and weak infrastructure, laying the foundation for the development of sustained economic modernisation, he added. “As the prime minister, I give priority to the timely completion of the ongoing CPEC projects as the cornerstone of our future bilateral economic cooperation agenda,” he remarked.
Shehbaz Sharif said he visited a number of CPEC projects, including the Port of Gwadar, and directed completion of projects as scheduled so that the people of the both countries can reap the benefits. He said the Chinese enterprises and investors are key to cooperation between the two countries, and the Pakistani government has spared no effort to facilitate them and begin to prepare for the implementation of common priorities of the next phase of the CPEC. “We will continue to work closely with China to enhance the momentum of cooperation between the two countries,” he added.
To a question about his expectations for the future planning and development prospects of the corridor, he said the CPEC is a long-term blueprint for the two countries to support each other on the long road of development and well-being of their people. The construction of the CPEC has become more concrete after achieving an early harvest phase focused on energy and infrastructure development.
“In the short term, we hope to complete major infrastructure projects under construction as soon as possible, including the strategic Pakistan Main Line 1 (ML-1), which will further accelerate the transfer of industries and help consolidate our integration into global value chains,” he said.
About the Pak-China friendship, he said the all-weather strategic partnership between Pakistan and China was deeply rooted in people’s hearts, covering all areas of bilateral cooperation. “With the careful nurture of generations of leaders of the two countries, all political factions in Pakistan have a full consensus on further deepening the strategic partnership,” he remarked.
Shehbaz Sharif said that the two countries support each other on the issue of mutual core interests. Pakistan has always firmly supported ‘One China Policy’ and believed that Taiwan is its an inalienable part. He said that Pakistan-China relations are an important factor for peace and stability in the region and the world. Pakistan is one of the earliest supporters of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative. Its flagship project, the CPEC, has changed Pakistan’s economic landscape.
“Pakistan is also one of the main partners in global development initiatives. I believe that Pakistan and China will continue to work together to build a community with a shared future for mankind,” he asserted. Sharing his impressions about China, he said, “I have visited China many times and always amazed at the rise of China. Over the past 40 years of reform and opening up, nearly 800 million people in China have been lifted out of poverty, which is an unprecedented great achievement and a miracle of modern society.”
He appreciated concentration, wisdom and determination of Chinese leaders and the hard work of the Chinese nation to put China on the modern path of success and prosperity. “I am also keen about the profound impact of Chinese civilisation on the world. Whether it is China’s governance model, the rapid development of modernisation and economy, and adherence to the people-centered development ideology, it is of reference significance for all developing countries, including Pakistan,” the prime minister said.
Regarding the upcoming 20th National Congress of the CPC to be held in Beijing and development of China in the past 10 years and his expectations for China’s future development, he remarked, “China’s rise is a modern miracle. This goal cannot be achieved without the leadership of the Communist Party of China”.
“In 1949, the Communist Party of China led the people of all ethnic groups in the country, got rid of the shackles of semi-feudalism and semi-colonialism, and established the People’s Republic of China. Last year, the Communist Party of China celebrated its 100th birthday”. The Communist Party of China holds high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era and is leading China on a new journey of building a modern socialist country in an all-round way, he added.
The prime minister said that China has built itself into an economic power and its per capita income has doubled in 10 years. “I believe that China’s ‘double cycle’ strategy and emphasis on high-quality development are formulated in response to the economic realities of the next decade. I firmly believe that under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese nation will be able to realise the dream of great national rejuvenation”.
To a question about China’s role in the current world situation, he said, “I agree with Chinese leaders that the world today is undergoing a great change that has not been in a century. The world is in turmoil, and conflicts continue to affect many parts of the world”. In this challenging era, developing countries, including Pakistan, agree with China’s emphasis on responding to the current international changes by establishing mutually beneficial partnerships and adhering to peace, development and dialogue, he added.
Pakistan, like the vast number of developing countries, has benefited from President Xi Jinping’s open and inclusive global development platform, the far-sighted Belt and Road Initiative. The CPEC, Shehbaz said, has made Pakistan a fulcrum of regional integration, connecting South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.
Similarly, global development initiatives provide a comprehensive blueprint for achieving sustainable development goals. “In fact, these initiatives show that China is ready to shoulder the responsibilities of major powers, strengthen international cooperation, and promote the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind,” he added.
While evaluating Pakistan’s current development path, he said, resilience, hard work and dedication constitute the development story of Pakistan. “We have faced many serious challenges, but we have successfully met them. We have built a batch of high-quality infrastructure. Pakistan is one of the youngest and most talented countries, so it has continued to develop and achieve achievements. We have the talent to drive our own development,” he said.
The prime minister said, “The development strategy of the coalition government depends on how to repair the economic fundamentals that constrain us from realising our existing potential. In order to stabilise the economy, we urgently need to lay the foundation for the long-delayed structural reform. We also need to deepen economic and trade relations with friendly countries”.
“The public policy transformation from geopolitics to geo-economics represents a consensus that we should realise the potential to accelerate our development. The core of our development strategy remains to safeguard the well-being of the Pakistani people and make Pakistan a self-reliant state”, the prime minister concluded.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry appreciated Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for his words uttered on multiple occasions on Pak-China bilateral relations and the China-Pakistan Economic Cooperation (CPEC). “Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif spoke highly of China-Pakistan relations and CPEC on multiple occasions. He is much committed to the practical cooperation between our two countries. China appreciates that,” Spokesperson Wang Wenbin in a response to a question asked by APP during his regular briefing.
PM Shehbaz, in an exclusive interview with the Chinese daily Global Times, touched upon a wide range of topics such as Pak-China relations, regional and world situations, CPEC and the upcoming 20th National Congress of Communist Party of China (CPEC).
Wang Wenbin said CPEC was an economic initiative that was conducive to promoting regional connectivity, peace, stability and development. “China is ready to work with Pakistan to follow through on a common understanding between our two leaders,” he added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday expressed Pakistan’s firm commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
The prime minister, in a meeting with the UN Resident Coordinator Julien Harneis, highlighted that Pakistan had been contributing actively to the work of the UN, especially in the areas of peacekeeping, humanitarian action, climate change, and international cooperation for sustainable development. Various areas of UN’s work and cooperation with Pakistan were discussed during the meeting, including the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, flood relief, food security, and ecosystem restoration.
The prime minister appreciated the significant role played by the UN in supporting Pakistan’s progress towards the attainment of UN Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that complete rehabilitation and immediate assistance to the flood victims is the top priority of the incumbent government.
Chairing a follow-up meeting of relief operations in flood-affected areas of Balochistan, the prime minister directed that joint survey should be conducted in Balochistan to estimate the damages occurred due to the recent floods.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif congratulated Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on the conferment of the Order of the Union by President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. The prime minister in a tweet posted on his social media account said it was an honour for General Qamar Javed Bajwa as well as for Pakistan. He further said that the relationship between the two brotherly countries of Pakistan and the UAE have gone from strength to strength.