Monday September 25, 2023

‘CPEC pivotal to Pakistan’s future economic progress’

July 26, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The decision to extend the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan and the potential for its further westward movement to Central Asia would help advance the key shared objectives of connectivity and regional economic integration.

It has been announced in the third Pakistan-China Think Tank Forum, focusing on the Decade of CPEC, which concluded with high hopes for CPEC and message of unwavering Chinese support for Pakistan.

“The transformational CPEC, the flagship project of President Xi Jinping’s visionary Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), remains at the core of Pakistan-China relationship and is pivotal to Pakistan’s future economic progress and prosperity.”

This was stated by Director General Institute of Strategic Studies (ISSI) Sohail Mahmood in the third forum, held in Beijing as part of the series of commemorative events being held in connection with the completion of 10 years of CPEC.

The DG ISSI in his keynote remarks reaffirmed that friendship with China is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy and the two countries’ time-tested strategic cooperative partnership is based on strategic mutual trust and commonality of views.

The two countries support each other on their respective issues of core interest including Pakistan’s steadfast support to China on One-China policy and Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong and South China Sea.

For its part, Pakistan appreciated China’s consistent support for Pakistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, security, and economic development as well as its principled stance on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.

Sohail Mahmood said that the Decade of CPEC is the practical manifestation of the growing strategic relationship between Pakistan and China. CPEC has contributed enormously to Pakistan’s economic growth, helped improve transport infrastructure, address energy deficit, and promoted socio-economic development. The second phase of CPEC is focusing on agriculture, industrialisation, SEZs, mining, science and technology, and Information Technology. Sohail Mahmood stressed that the two sides must continue to work together in defending CPEC against threats and challenges posed by forces inimical to Pakistan-China relationship. The security dimension is most important in terms of safeguarding the shared interests of both nations in the changing geo-strategic environment and optimally realising CPEC’s full potential for development. He said that successful completion of 10 years is a major milestone and also a fitting juncture for planning for the many next 10 years of CPEC to come. He said the leadership and people of Pakistan believe China and Pakistan are indispensable partners and that CPEC is pivotal to Pakistan’s future economic progress and prosperity. This is consistent with Pakistan’s pivot to geo-economics.

He noted that in 2047 and 2049, Pakistan and China would be celebrating their respective centenaries and, as such, the two countries should craft a vision now for the next twenty-five years for their strategic partnership. The vision should also focus on how China’s tremendous technological transformation could be leveraged to advance Pakistan’s economic modernisation and development.

Ambassador Zhang Maoming, Deputy Director-General Department of Asian Affairs, in his keynote address emphasized that Pakistan and China are good neighbours, good friends and good brothers. He underlined that regardless of the dynamic of international politics, China and Pakistan always firmly support each other. He added that President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had agreed to continue to deepen bilateral strategic cooperation between the two countries.

He underscored that the China-Pakistan friendship is deeply rooted in the hearts of the two peoples. China extended its support to Pakistani people in the last year’s floods, supported Pakistan in its temporary financial problems, and helped in evacuating the Pakistani nationals from Sudan. Ambassador Maoming noted that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the pilot project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This year marks the 10th anniversary of both the CPEC and BRI. Over the past 10 years, CPEC has made a lot of progress and also attracted certain risks and challenges; however, regardless of the challenges, the Chinese side is committed to optimally realizing the full potential and ensuring high-quality development of CPEC. He added that in the second phase of CPEC, China was resolved to enhance cooperation in the fields of agriculture, mining, science and technology, and information technology. He said that China wishes to make CPEC a demonstration project of high-quality development and contribute to progress and prosperity of Pakistan and countries of the region and beyond. Dr. Fu Xiaoqiang, Vice President, CICIR, highlighted that China attaches great value to its relations with Pakistan. He said that over the past decade, CPEC has secured many achievements by creating jobs, improving the energy sector, and adding over 500 kilometres to roads and motorways.