CPEC: China Pakistan Economic Corridor New era of cooperation & exchanges | By Guo Guiling, Beijing

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CPEC: China Pakistan Economic Corridor New era of cooperation & exchanges

Pakistan is located in the northwest of the South Asian subcontinent and is adjacent to China in the northeast.

The ancient Silk Road traversed what is now northern Pakistan and reached Europe via Central Asia.

History traced back 2000 years ago shows Pakistani and Chinese scholars, monks and businessmen followed the ancient Silk Road and crossed Karakoram Mountains to carry out cultural exchanges and trade.

Pakistan is one of the first countries to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative. CPEC, a landmark project of “BRI”, has gradually shown practical results in Pakistan in the past 10 years since its launch in 2013.

The article “Pakistanis Perceive China as “Their Best Friend” published by the US “Diplomat” in October 2022, more than 1,200 Pakistanis participated in the Sinophone Borderlands public survey.

When asked “what first came to people’s minds when thinking of China”, most common responses were “best friend”, “good friend” and “trusted friend”.

On the second question: is the overall perception of China for the past three years for better or for the worse, and why? 85% of Pakistani respondents answered in the affirmative.

Main reasons, China’s support to Pakistan, including the CPEC, Chinese investment and China’s support for Pakistan’s fight against the epidemic are listed.

Statistics from the Ministry of Commerce of China show that in 2015, the bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and China was US$18.93 billion, a yearly increase of 18.2%.

In 2016, it rose to 9.524 billion USD, a yearly increase of 9.1%. In the first half of 2017, US$11.53 billion with yearly increase of 6.4%. From January to December 2020, US$17.49 billion, a yearly decrease of 2.7%; from January to December 2021, the bilateral trade volume was US$27.82 billion, a yearly increase of 59.1%.

Among them, China’s exports to Pakistan were US$24.23 billion, a yearly increase of 57.8%. Imports from Pakistan were US$3.59 billion, a yearly increase of 68.9%. According to Pakistani statistics, China has been Pakistan’s largest trading partner for imports and 2nd largest export destination for six consecutive years.

Before 2015, Pakistan had been suffering from power shortages all over the country with major cities facing load-shedding of 10 hours & rural area for 22 hours a day.

National average power shortage was 4,000 megawatts. Since the establishment of CPEC, the domestic power shortage in Pakistan has been greatly alleviated.

Ten energy & power projects in CPEC, including Dawo Wind Power Project, Thar Coal-fired Power Station, Port Qasim Coal-fired Power Station, Karot Hydropower Station, Mattiari-Lahore ±660kV DC Transmission Project, Suki Knari Hydropower Station and others have been completed.

According to statistics from PBS, as of January 2022, total capacity of energy projects completed under CPEC reached 5.32 million kilowatts.

Khalid Mansour, SAPM on CPEC Affairs, said that this power capacity provided a large amount of residential and industrial electricity which helped Pakistan get rid of prolonged power outages.

Mattiari-Lahore ±660 kV DC power transmission project has solved the problem of power transmission and distribution in Pakistan with advanced technology, reduced power line losses and improved power transmission network in Pakistan.

The second phase of Karakoram Highway and the Peshawar-Karachi Expressway Project have improved traffic capacity.

Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of Planning, said that CPEC has helped Pakistan build a number of world-class highways. Today, Pakistan has built an efficient and high-speed road network connecting the whole country and created new opportunities for Pakistan’s tourism industry.

The first phase of CPEC (2015-2020) has made significant progress in transport infrastructure and energy sectors & created about 38,000 jobs, more than 75% local jobs and energy projects have created 16,000 jobs for Pakistani engineers and workers.

transportation infrastructure has created about 13,000 jobs. Peshawar-Karachi Expressway (Sukkur-Multan Section) has created 9,800 jobs and Karakoram second phase of highway upgrading and reconstruction created 2,071 local jobs. Besides, CPEC has created thousands of indirect jobs.

Gwadar was originally a small wharf on the Arabian coast of southwestern Pakistan, residents mainly rely on fishing.

CPEC Projects in Gwadar Port are not only officially operating, achieving the goal of connecting with major ports in the world, but also greatly improving the living and employment environment of the residents.

Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of Planning, said that remarkable progress has been made in Gwadar Port in the construction of CPEC.

Whether it is Gwadar Port Free Zone, seawater desalination plant, vocational and technical colleges aided by China, Pak-China Friendship Hospital, China Pakistan Faqeer Primary School, etc., completed or under construction, or the solar power system equipment donated by China to the people of Gwadar, all promote the local social and economic development.

Under the CPEC initiative, Pakistan and China are exchanging cultural values, norms and models, products, commodities and resources with each other. Intangible culture includes food, language, clothing, religion and way of life.

Chinese engineers of the CPEC project have brought Chinese culture into their lives locally and Chinese engineers are also actively learning Urdu, habits and Pak culture.

Those prove that economic development has also strengthened the social ties and bonds between the two countries.

In 2008, when China suffered from the Wenchuan earthquake, Pakistan immediately donated more than 20,000 tents in its domestic inventory to China. In 2013, Pakistan provided US$1 million in humanitarian aid to China’s earthquake-stricken areas.

In the summer of 2022 Pakistan floods, China provided Pakistan with 4,000 tents, 50,000 blankets, 50,000 waterproof awnings. The Red Cross Society of China provided emergency cash assistance of US$300,000.

The Chinese government provided an additional 300 million Yuan in disaster relief materials on top of 100 million Yuan in emergency relief supplies. The civilian rescue team and Chinese companies in Pakistan took rescue and initiative to repair roads and bridges in disaster-stricken areas.

The majestic Karakoram Mountains have witnessed the history of Pakistan-China economic and trade exchanges and people-to-people and cultural exchanges over the past 2000 years.

CPEC has opened the way for Pakistan-China cooperation and exchanges in the new era. Through joint construction of CPEC, two sides will promote understanding and cooperation between countries and societies and achieve mutual benefits.

As CPEC enters the stage of high-quality development, Pakistan and China will have broad space for cooperation in the fields of industry, agriculture, modernization and information technology in the future and the peoples of the two countries will benefit from high-quality construction projects one by one.

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