CPEC back on track | By Navid Aman

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CPEC back on track

Launched in 2013, the CPEC is a corridor linking Pakistan’s Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea with Kashgar in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which highlights energy, transport and industrial cooperation.

The USD 60 billion CPEC is part of China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a pet project of President Xi Jin Ping. Pakistan can serve as the manufacturing base for China and an extension of its industrial and supply chain network.

The 21st century has demanded a new paradigm to deal with the emerging challenges as well as opportunities and to wean the region away from conflict and conflagration.

The two countries could fast-track bilateral cooperation to boost corporate farming, efficient water usage, development of hybrid seeds and high-yield crops and establish cold storage chains.

For magnificent results in growth of varied crops China has shifted its agriculture from conventional means to technology based.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has assured Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif that China would inject new impetus into the strategic cooperative partnership. President Xi Jinping has also promised Pakistan support in stabilizing its financial situation.

Premier Shehbaz Sharif’s recent visit to China, aimed at putting the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), back on track, seems to have achieved its objective.

During Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to China the two countries signed agreements covering a broad range of areas. They have agreed to enhance cooperation on CPEC, including its expansion to Afghanistan.

They have decided to launch a $10 billion high-speed rail project linking Karachi to Peshawar. It is a project of strategic importance under CPEC.

China has also agreed to export technology for a 160 km/hour high-speed railway train to Pakistan. This is the first time that China will be exporting this technology to any country.

Xi Jin Ping’s statements are encouraging as Pakistan has requested China to roll over its $6.3 billion in debts that are set to mature in the coming months. It will be a significant relief to Pakistan, which is in a serious economic crisis.

Premier Shehbaz Sharif was honored to be among the first few leaders to have been invited after the historic 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

At a time when the world is grappling with multiple challenges, Pakistan and China stand together as friends and partners.

The premier’s discussion with the Chinese leadership was focused on the revitalization of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) among many other things.

The second phase of CPEC promises to usher in a new era of socio-economic progress that will uplift the quality of our people’s life. Crumbling economy of Pakistan needs a lot to learn from the Chinese economic miracle.

New financial agreements between China and Pakistan are signaling a shift in political alignments in the region with implications for South Asian neighbors, the United States and for the economic future of Pakistan itself.

China and Pakistan solidify the growing economic ties between the two nations following a meeting between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Beijing.

Comprehensively, the two countries pledged bilateral cooperation in areas of economy, technology, industry, investment, infrastructure, space, vaccine, digitalization, standardization, disaster management, culture, sports and vocational education.

Between Pakistan and China, the economic ties were strengthened in 2013 with the establishment of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a collection of Chinese-funded infrastructure projects designed to upgrade Pakistan’s infrastructure and improve its economy.

The CPEC is a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The economic relationship is not limited to trade and CPEC, as China is one of Pakistan’s largest lenders, holding more than 28%of Pakistan’s debt.

The Pakistani economy has since partially rebounded. Pakistan has been facing currency devaluation and high inflation.

Pakistan will have to provide a reliable and safe environment for Chinese institutions and personnel working on cooperation projects. Security cooperation between the two countries carries a serious question mark.

Balochistan is impoverished and restive, and the province’s development under CPEC not only has the potential to neutralize the appeal of Baloch militant groups but also to materialize CPEC’s expansion into Afghanistan and beyond.

Neither Pakistan nor China wants security issues to disrupt CPEC’s pace, particularly projects being carried out in Balochistan as CPEC’s real potential lies in that southern province.

There has been a visible decline in attacks on Chinese interests in Pakistan. It is expected that Pakistan and China’s counter-terrorism cooperation will further deepen in the coming weeks and months, particularly to secure investment and personnel associated with CPEC.

Progress on CPEC projects slowed down during the three and half years. There have been many problems during the Imran Khan-led PTI government for which we need to apologize to our Chinese brothers.

After assuming power on April 11, 2022, the PML-N government has started solving problems.

Around $200 million owed to Chinese companies have been paid and a revolving fund has been created from 50 billion rupees by the State Bank.

We need to put CPEC back on track. Tremendous efforts are being made to address Chinese concerns relating to delays in project implementation, repayment of loans and security issues in Pakistan.

As the financial crunch has deepened in Pakistan, the sense of urgency to address China’s concerns would intensify in Pakistan. Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to China will cement bilateral ties between both the countries.

Pakistan needs to sort out administrative and financial matters to meet Chinese expectations and work pace. The development of Gwadar Port, a flagship project of CPEC, should be accelerated.

 

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