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November 3, 2017

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China stands by Pakistan through thick and thin

China stands by Pakistan through thick and thin

BEIJING : As Pakistan is passing through a critical phase of economic development, China is optimistic and sincerely wishes Pakistan to seize the opportunity provided by CPEC to bring about much needed progress and prosperity in its economy. It makes no difference to China as to which party is in the government and the fact is that the Chinese Government is not worried about the ongoing pace of CPEC projects. However as a sincere friend of Pakistan, China does not want any hindrance that can slow down the pace of development and obviously it keeps a close eye on political developments in Pakistan.

China and Pakistan are determined to complete the CPEC projects well in time and no power can subvert or undermine the development process that has already gained sufficient momentums. CPEC is a major part of One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative and is considered to be a flagship, plots project of this revolutionary programme. No one will be able to derail this project and its completion will result in huge economic benefits for both China and Pakistan.

These views were expressed by Mr Liu Pengfei, a senior diplomat at the Chinese Foreign Ministry while speaking to a group of senior Pakistani Journalists visiting China on the invitation of Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr Liu further said that China is fully committed to the CPEC project and development of Gwadar Port is an integral part of this scheme. He expressed hope that development of Gwadar Airport and Gwadar Expressway along with other important projects will also start by the end of this year. “The delay in commencement of these projects was caused due to the change in financing model. Previously these were commercial projects but now Chinese Government is providing soft loans and grants”, he added. He also said that the purpose of CPEC was to bring more prosperity through economic interconnectivity not only in Pakistan but in the whole region and thus other countries in the region are always welcome to join this initiative.

Mr Liu expressed his satisfaction on the development pace of CPEC and said that out of 50, 19 projects are already in different phases of development with an investment outlay of over $18 b. He cited the example of Sahiwal Coal Project and said the development pace of this project even surpassed the expectations of Chinese Government. He praised the steps taken by Punjab Government for completing CPEC projects at such a fast speed and hoped that other provinces in Pakistan will emulate the Punjab model.

He also said that in some areas of Pakistan, the pace of development of projects is slow due to lack of infrastructure. He was optimistic that in days to come, many backward areas of Pakistan will be able to benefit from the fruits of development. “Pakistan and China are iron brothers, strategic partners and all-weather friends. Our enhanced economic cooperation will bring economic development and much needed vibrancy to Pakistan economy and will also benefit China.”

Mr Liu, while talking on the Kashmir issue, said that the Chinese government desires both Pakistan and India to resolve their disputes through dialogue and peaceful negotiations. “Kashmir is a complex issue and stability in the region depends upon relations between Pakistan and India,” he added. However, he also made it crystal clear that China stands by Pakistan during all times and in every hour of need.

Mr Liu also emphasized the need for enhancing people to people contact between Pakistan and China.     “We are neighbours and close friends and should strive to know each other better by exploring each others cultures. This will develop true understanding between the people of both the countries”.

Mr Mohammad Mehdi, senior columnist and head of Pakistani delegation expressed his profound regards to the Chinese government for initiating CPEC project and further strengthening the friendship bond between the two nations. He also said that the re-election of President Xi Jingping is considered in Pakistan a very good omen for continued support of CPEC by the Chinese government. He expressed hope that successful execution of CPEC will bring tremendous benefits to the people of both countries.

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