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Tuesday April 16, 2024

Pakistan, China sign six accords for CPEC phase-II

PM says second phase to focus on B2B investment in agriculture, info-tech sectors, and special economic zones

By Muhammad Anis
August 01, 2023
Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng (Left) and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif signed the First Day Cover of commemorative stamp at a ceremony to celebrate the 10th anniversary of CPEC in Islamabad on July 31, Monday. — PID
Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng (Left) and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif signed the First Day Cover of commemorative stamp at a ceremony to celebrate the 10th anniversary of CPEC in Islamabad on July 31, Monday. — PID 

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said Pakistan and China are entering the second phase of CPEC now, which will feature B2B investment in agriculture and information technology to enable Pakistan to export its products according to the Chinese standards and requirements.

He was speaking at a ceremony, held at the Prime Minister’s House on Monday for the signing of six important documents between the two countries, in the presence of Chinese Vice-Premier He Lifeng. “Today we can claim that under CPEC, more than $25 billion investment took place in power, road, hydel power and public transport. Today, we signed certain important documents, which will further enhance cooperation and help begin the second phase of CPEC under a new model,” the prime minister said.

Chinese Vice-Premier He Lifeng, along with a delegation, is visiting Islamabad to attend the 10th-anniversary celebrations of CPEC. The two countries signed six documents on the Joint Cooperation Committee on CPEC; a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on establishing an export exchange mechanism within the framework of CPEC; a protocol of phytosanitary requirements for the export of dry chillies from Pakistan to China and a document on the final report on the feasibility study of realignment of KKH Phase-II. Both sides also signed through diplomatic channels an MoU on the industrial workers exchange programme as well as minutes of the 21st conference of a technical committee to promote the strategic ML-1 project.

Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal and China’s National Development and Reforms Commission Vice Chairman signed the document on the joint cooperation committee of CPEC. The second document, signed by Ahsan Iqbal and Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reforms Commission, was related to establishing an expert exchange mechanism within the framework of CPEC.

The third document was signed by the Secretary, the Ministry of National Food Security, Zafar Hassan, and the Chinese Charge D’Affaires Pang Chunxue to export dried chillies from Pakistan to China.

Member Planning of National Highway Authority Asim Amin and Chunxue signed the fourth document on the realignment of the Karakoram Highway Phase-II project feasibility study.

The prime minister expressed pleasure over the signing of documents and thanked the Chinese vice-premier for visiting Pakistan to celebrate 10 years of CPEC. He recalled that 10 years ago, CPEC was signed between the-then prime minister Nawaz Sharif and President Xi Jinping, and implementation was started within no time.

Shehbaz said the two countries are entering the second phase of CPEC, which would help promote investment, progress and prosperity not only for Pakistan but also for the entire region. The second phase, he also said, would focus on high-quality development, envisaging a growth corridor, with the completion of special economic zones, industrial and green corridors, and openness and connectivity.

He hoped that this corridor of “North and South” would expand to include the entire region and different parts of the world. The prime minister said that CPEC is going to turn around Pakistan’s economy through multiple programmes and initiatives.

Shehbaz also thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping for sending his special envoy to Pakistan and showing solidarity for people-to-people friendship and showing to the world that both countries were bound in a great and unique relationship. “We are all-weather friends and iron brothers. This friendship will continue and will not tolerate any kind of obstacle in the way of further strengthening of ties,” he remarked.

Shehbaz said Pakistan was absolutely ready to contribute to President Xi’s vision of shared prosperity. He also highlighted the importance of ML-1 and the Karachi Circular Railway. The prime minister expressed the hope that both projects would be successfully executed to make Pakistan stand on its feet through the hard work and untiring efforts of both countries.

“It is the Chinese model; it is President Xi Jinping’s model and will emulate it under the vision of our Pakistan’s founding father Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to promote prosperity and peace in this country,” the PM said.

Expressing satisfaction at the steady development of CPEC projects in Pakistan, the two sides agreed on the centrality of the project for Pakistan’s socioeconomic development and expressed their firm commitment to continue working together for realising its shared objectives.

Vice Premier of the State Council of China He Lifeng separately called on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and both agreed that the 10th anniversary of CPEC celebrations constituted a fresh starting point to further expand the initiative as envisaged by the leadership of the two countries.

During the meeting, the two sides exchanged views on several aspects of the bilateral relationship, including CPEC and bilateral economic and financial cooperation. Welcoming He Lifeng, PM Shehbaz congratulated him on being promoted to the vice-premier of China in March this year.

Appreciating China’s support for Pakistan’s economic development, the prime minister observed that as strategic partners and trusted friends, the two countries had always stood by each other in difficult times, as was evidenced by Chinese support to Pakistan in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and devastating floods in Pakistan.

In his remarks, Vice Premier He Lifeng conveyed President Xi Jinping’s message of China’s firm support for Pakistan’s prosperity and development. He underlined that the Pakistan-China friendship was unique and had withstood the vicissitude of time due to deep fraternal ties between the peoples of the two nations. He reiterated that as an iron brother and strategic partner, China would continue its existing economic and financial support to Pakistan.

Welcoming the prime minister’s vision for deepening trade and investment ties with Pakistan, the vice premier conveyed China’s willingness to enhance Pakistan’s agro and food exports to China. The prime minister also hosted a luncheon in honour of He Lifeng and the accompanying delegation.

Meanwhile, President Dr Arif Alvi conferred Pakistan’s second-highest civil award, Hilal-i-Pakistan (Crescent of Pakistan), on Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng during an investiture ceremony held at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, here on Monday. The award was given to the Chinese dignitary to honour his role in the promotion of bilateral ties between Pakistan and China. The ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and other civil and military leaders. According to the Foreign Office, the visiting dignitary will be in Pakistan from July 30 to August 1 (Tuesday).

Also, Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng met General Syed Asim Munir, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), here on Monday. During the meeting, matters of mutual interest and defence cooperation were discussed, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement. Both reiterated the desire to further enhance and strengthen the bilateral relations in all fields.