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‘With Chinese help, loadshedding reduced to two hours aday in Pakistan’

By our correspondents
October 06, 2017

LAHORE: Chinese Deputy Chief of Mission Zhoa Lijian has said that Pakistan was facing a crisis of loadshedding in 2014 and in a city like Islamabad, loadshedding was carried out for seven hours while in its rural area, it was about 10-12 hours, which has now been reduced to two hours.

The Jang Media Group and the largest Chinese news agency Xinhua on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation.

The MoU was signed by Syed Sarmad Ali of Jang Group and Xinhua Bureau Chief in Islamabad Liu Tian here. The signing ceremony was attended by Chinese Deputy Chief of Mission Zhao Lijian as the chief guest. Ali Moeen Nawazish and Syed Amjad Ali were also present in the ceremony.

Addressing the ceremony, Zhoa Lijian said China gave importance to the cooperation between the media of the two countries.

He said the Chinese ambassador in Pakistan, Sun Weidong, was in Lahore with regard for his farewell meetings and he especially assigned him to attend the ceremony. He said the MoU between the Jang group and Xinhua was a milestone between the two countries. The News of the Jang Group has started printing two pages of Chinese newspaper Huashang in Chinese language under the agreement, which was signed last week.

He said the Chinese Embassy was encouraging the cooperation with the media and holds seminars for training of journalists while the important meeting of the CPEC media forum would be held next month, to be attended by journalists from both the countries. “Media will play the role of a bridge to bring the people ofbetween the friendly countries was moving forward and it is a golden era of cooperation between China and Pakistan. He said CPEC was signed between the two countries during the visit of Chinese president in 2015 and after that seven mega projects were completed. “Pakistani economy will flourish with the CPEC and both the friendly countries will further come close to each other with cooperation in economic front,” he said.

He said around 22,000 Pakistani students were getting education in China, which was only 2000 in 2010, adding Pakistan’s students outnumber Indians in China. He said Chinese airline has extended flights for Pakistan and now their number has gone up to seven from four.

MD of Jang Group Syed Sarmad Ali while addressing the ceremony said it was historic day when Pakistan’s largest media group — Jang group – and Chinese largest news agency Xinhua signed the MoU, which will bring both countries closer to each other.

He said, “All of us knew about the friendship and cooperation between the two countries but there is a need that the peoples of both the countries should know about the culture, economy, language and social contacts. Due to CPEC, it was now more important that people of both the countries should know about each other. Media could play a vital role in this regard as media is a mirror of the society,” he said.

He said The News of the Jang Group has started to print two pages in Chinese language and now this agreement will take the cooperation between the largest media groups of Pakistan and China into new heights.

Bureau Chief of Xinhua, Liu Tian said the signing of MoU with Pakistan’s largest media group is an honour for him. He said Xinhua is largest Chinese news agency which has offices in all the provinces of China and bureau offices in 180 countries and it has the largest network which has covered politics, economy, showbiz and other areas in eight different languages of the world.

He said the cooperation between Jang Group and Xinhua news agency will be helpful for strengthening relations between the two countries and will also be helpful for the peoples of both the countries to understand each other.

He said menace of terrorism has been reduced in Pakistan and economy of Pakistan has also improved. Ali Moen Nawazish of Jang Group said cooperation between the media will further strengthen relations between peoples of both the countries.

Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong said that as many as 19 projects were underway or had been completed under CPEC inside Pakistan with an investment of 18.5 billion US dollars which shows that the Corridor projects had gained strong momentum. 

Talking to journalists in Lahore, the ambassador said this degree of speedy and tremendous progress in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor perspective meant a win-win situation for both China and Pakistan rather for the whole region.

Sun Weidong recalled that when he assumed the ambassadorial duties in Pakistan, the economic growth rate of Pakistan was 3.6 but in a short span of time, Pakistan attained remarkable improvement in the growth rate which rose to 5.3 last year. He said that China has given 5,000 scholarships to Pakistani students. 

He continued: “China-Pakistan cooperation is very much a win-win cooperation that is manifesting in the shape of flagship projects”. 

Clarifying the investment or loan theories about Chinese cooperation, the Ambassador told the media seniors that “major portion of CPEC's projects was investment-based and this major portion mostly comprised energy projects. There are three categories of CPEC: first, investment from Chinese companies as in the energy sector which is being managed in the IPP mode. Second category of cooperation is in the form of concessional loans with the support of Chinese government and the third category is free assistance to some degree like in the case of construction of new airport at Gwadar. Interest-free loans are also being disbursed.”

Giving additional information about energy projects, Mr Sun Weidong said: “Within a brief period of two years, China added 1820 megawatts of electricity to the national grid of Pakistan through three wind power, one solar and one coal-fired power plants”. 

Progress was also quite visible in the up-gradation of Karakoram Highway Phase II and in the construction of Peshawar-Karachi expressway. Some progress has also been made in the Gwadar port project. At Gwadar, free economic zone is going to be quite helpful. Already, 30 Chinese companies have come up for establishing their businesses in these zones.”

Answering a question about certain countries’ and leaders’ opposition to CPEC, the Chinese ambassador said, “More than 60 countries have supported CPEC and OBOR (One Belt, One Road). We are moving towards a symphony. Our projects, especially the Corridor, are not against anybody or any country. All will be winners in the end. Our relationship with Pakistan and other countries is based on mutual respect, understanding and trust. We are in fact working for a more peaceful and prosperous world. The fact is that peace and development are the theme- and desire- of the world.”

The Chinese envoy explained further that the Corridor was in fact one plus four layout: One is the Corridor and four are energy, infrastructure, Gwadar and industrial cooperation. 

Talking about China’s economic achievements, Mr Sun Weidong told the media persons that 30 percent of the growth rate of the world is coming from China. 

Talking about the security issues, the Chinese envoy said the security situation has also improved in Pakistan following the launching of effective operations against terrorism by Pakistan like Zarbe Azb, Raddul Fasaad and Khyber-IV.

“China presses upon the world to recognise Pakistan’s contributions in war against terrorism as well as its sacrifices rendered in this area,” he said. 

Answering another query, the envoy said: “Pakistan has a great potential ahead with majority of its 200 million population consisting mostly of young people. You link East to West, North to South and mountains to sea, bringing the region together.”

He also praised Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif for making unprecedented progress in achieving the economic development target in Punjab and executing the CPEC projects. He said that he has always found Shahbaz Sharif very hard working.

He said new chapter of friendly relations between the two countries ushered in after the Chinese president’s visit to Islamabad.

Weidong cited the example of Sahiwal Coal Power Plant Project which has been completed in a record period of 22 months. “This project was completed with ‘Punjab Speed’ and we term it as ‘Pakistan Speed’ as well,” he remarked.

“CPEC is a reflection of development vision of the leadership of both the countries,” he said and added that the Punjab chief minister’s role in enhancing economic relations between the two countries was commendable.

Weidong was addressing a ceremony hosted by Shahbaz in connection with 68th National Day of China and a farewell dinner in his at a local hotel.

“The Punjab government has given special attention to the wellbeing and security of Chinese engineers and workers working in the province,” the ambassador noted.

Chinese Consul General Long Dingbin described Shahbaz as a visionary leader who has played an excellent role in promoting Pak-China friendship.

In his address, the chief minister paid tributes to the services of Weidong, saying, “The Chinese ambassador has played exemplary role in transforming Pak-China relations into economic cooperation.”

He said, “Chinese President Xi Jinping has given a great vision of Belt and Road.”

He cited various ongoing projects – including solar power plants, Port Qasim Power Plant, Lahore-Karachi Motorway and Orange Line – and said, “The Pakistani people will always remember this unique cooperation of China.”