Monday April 22, 2024

Chinese cooperation open to all in Pakistan: Zhao Shiren

By Mian Saifur Rehman & Asif Mehmood
July 21, 2022

LAHORE: Unlike some developed countries like those in G-7 and similar blocs, China is a South to South development partner of many developing countries, including those of the region, and it will continue collaborating with Pakistan regardless of which party rules it.

These views were expressed by Consul General of China, Lahore, Mr Zhao Shiren, during an exclusive panel interview with The News and Jang.The Consul General was asked as to why China preferred to consider itself a developing country despite having attained mammoth economic growth. The envoy replied that, in this manner, China continues to aim high to attain maximum, sustainable growth. At this juncture, the CG also drew a clear-cut comparison of China’s economic ties at the international level with the economic ties of the North or the developed world with the countries of the Third World or South. “We are not donors like these developed countries; we are development partners”.

Unfurling China’s economic story, Mr Shiren told The News and Jang that China became the second largest economy of the world in 2010, surpassing Japan and, at present, China’s GDP stood at 1.77 trillion US Dollars, with its per capita income standing at 12,000 Dollars per annum. It overcame the absolute poverty level not only according to Chinese standards but also on the basis of UN benchmarks of poverty through a sustained poverty alleviation programme. He added, “In our latest Economic Development Plan, we aim to achieve the GDP growth rate of 5.5 which is quite challenging. It is our conviction that China will become the world’s number one economy in the next five to six years or so”.

When asked to enumerate a few keys to such a marvellous success, he stated that Security, Sustainability, Continuity and Harmonisation (among different tiers of the system of governance) were the main factors leading to China’s economic stability although “We did face certain challenging moments but the sustainability, continuity and harmonisation factors in our system worked wonders to overcome these odds and difficulties putting China back on the trajectory of growth”.

Explaining these factors one by one, the envoy told these scribes that once a policy was formulated after thorough deliberations at and among different tiers, the policies are never abandoned by the state office-holders as well as the officials replacing the former functionaries who continue to come and go in usual routine. These constitute sustainability and continuity factors. As for harmonisation, “it is a smooth structural arrangement among the Centre and different provinces of China”. The CG gave an example of China’s National Power (Energy) Grid that has a well-coordinated system with all the provinces.

Giving further information about the CPEC projects, the diplomat also mentioned Orange Line Train and appreciated its smooth operations to the satisfaction of thousands of Pakistani commuters who pay very low fare for a 27-kilometer journey. When the envoy was informed about criticism on the man behind this project, Shehbaz Sharif, because of subsidy involved from the government side, the envoy added, “Governments give subsidies on projects of public welfare like Orange Line Train, in several parts of the world, including China. I must add here that media also needs to share the responsibility of removing wrong conjectures and misconceptions about the projects beneficial to the public at large”.

The News and Jang wanted to know whether the Chinese companies, under the CPEC umbrella, faced any hiccups or difficulties, the CG responded: “One such company i.e Sahiwal coal plant has been facing difficulties in the timely receipt of payments that created complications for the company to redeem its debt that it owed to the Chinese banks. It is, however, for the hosting countries of collaboration projects to provide facilitation and remove the bottlenecks and discrepancies, whatever.

Before concluding, Mr Shiren also appreciated Pakistan’s role that it played in the past by acting as a bridge between China and United States.