- ‘All countries are welcome to join the development of Pakistan’s economy’
ISLAMABAD: Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing said on Wednesday that the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to China would take the relations between the two countries into a ‘new era’ of development and prosperity.
Addressing the participants during the launch of a book, ‘CPEC – A Precursor to Regional Economic Growth and Stability’, published by Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), Ambassador Yao Jing said that Pakistan and China are entering a ‘new stage of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)’ under which the areas of cooperation would be expanded.
He said the leadership-level discussion on the next phase of CPEC would take place during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China, where he would attend the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Forum next week.
The book contained chapters written by both Pakistani and Chinese scholars. It highlights the opportunities and potential of the economic corridor, addresses the misperceptions, and brings back the focus of the discourse from CPEC’s geostrategic and political implications to economic and development aspects.
The book, containing 12 chapters, has been edited by SVI President Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema.
“The new phase is based on a stronger private sector involvement, including the activation of special economic zones, social sector cooperation, and the involvement of third country partners,” the envoy stated. “An agreement on social sector cooperation would be signed during PM Khan’s upcoming visit to China.”
He said the social sector cooperation would cover six areas including education, health, agriculture, water and irrigation, poverty alleviation, and human resource development. “As many as 27 projects are being initiated with the Chinese grant of $1 billion.”
Ambassador Jing said that both countries had agreed to involve other countries in the mega-project, adding that all countries are welcome to join the development of Pakistan’s economy.
Senate’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, while speaking on the occasion, said CPEC was a strategic national project, which was above party affiliations and provincial considerations.
He said that the corridor was contributing to the strengthening of the federation by developing infrastructure and bringing progress and prosperity to the country.
“Although the project has already made significant contributions in terms of addressing the energy crisis, operationalization of Gwadar port and activation of Thar coal project, the best of CPEC is yet to come,” he added.
Senator Mushahid said that Pakistan would become a hub of the emerging ‘greater South Asia’, which he believes would not just include the SAARC countries, but also China, Iran, and the Gulf region.
He rejected the threats of Chinese dominance in Pakistan, saying it was an outdated cold-war mindset, which was irrelevant to 21st century Asia.
Former defence minister Lt Gen (r) Khalid Naeem Lodhi, who has co-authored a chapter in the book, said, “The entire framework of relationships between states, government and the people may undergo a tectonic shift if the concept of shared prosperity is honestly embraced and common threats to humanity like climate change, environmental deterioration, disease and illiteracy are fought collectively.”
National University of Science and Technology’s Chinese Studies Centre Director Ambassador (r) Syed Javed Hassan, another contributing author of the book, emphasized the need for urgent reforms in governance, agriculture, industrial, energy, taxation, SEZ, SMEs, civil service, electoral, land, labour, administration, higher education, and foreign trade sectors in order to extract maximum benefits from CPEC.
SVI President Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema said CPEC not only merits a more informed narrative but based on the current government’s re-prioritization of the project goals, there is a need for resetting the discourse on CPEC.