CPEC: Culmination of 70 years of Pak-China Friendship | By Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan


CPEC: Culmination of 70 years of Pak-China Friendship

CHINA and Pakistan, being iron brothers, have celebrated the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties.

Since its start both countries have successfully maintained  an all-weather friendship and extended diverse cooperation in every field and issue of survival in which China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has now become icon of successful commercial diplomacy, durable economic partnership, effective tool of energy generation, means of new job generation and last but not the least, massive industrialization in the country.

CPEC is indeed the culmination of Pak-China friendship which has actually revolutionized the concept of engagements.

CPEC as an important flagship project of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which is now rated as project of the century and one of the main platforms for deepening bilateral cooperation, it has been bearing fruit.

New inflows of foreign direct investment, joint ventures, formation of special economic zones, immense infrastructural development, roads, super highways, agricultural development, science & technology, educational and cultural cooperation have been further enhanced after the operationalization of the CPEC in the country.

Moreover, Pakistan and China are time-tested strategic cooperative partners and the bilateral brotherly relations have witnessed new heights since the launch of the CPEC since its inception in 2015.

According to official statistics (April 2021), Pakistan recorded a substantial surge in its bilateral trade relations with China.

It witnessed a 70% increase in exports to China in the first quarter of 2021.  It was $888 million as compared to 2020′ Q1 $526 million.

Furthermore, the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (CPFD) was started last year which now allows Pakistani manufacturers and traders to export around 313 new products to the Chinese market with zero duties.

Fortunately, Pakistan is now befitting from Zero Duties Regime (ZDRs) on exports of 724 products to China under the first free trade pact signed between the two countries in 2006.

After implementation of the second pact, Pakistan has been now allowed to export more than 1,000 products to China with zero duties.

The new facility is particularly benefiting the agriculture, mango exports, Halal foods, leather, confectionary items and biscuits product sectors as well.

In 2019, Pakistan also inked an agreement with China to use Swapping of National Currencies Regime (SNCR) in which Chinese currency for bilateral trade to get rid of the dollar burden in $15 billion bilateral trade.

According to official data, Pakistan and China’s bilateral trade volume increased to some $15.6 billion in the 2019 fiscal year, up from $2.2 billion in 2005. It shows constant improvement and upward push in the Pak-China bilateral trade relations since its inception.

The $64 billion mega-project of CPEC aims to connect China’s strategically important Xinjiang province to the Gwadar port in Pakistan through a network of roads, railways and pipelines to transport cargo, oil and gas.

The economic corridor will not only provide China with cheaper access to Africa and the ME but will also earn Pakistan billions of dollars for providing transit facilities to the world’s second-largest economy.

In this connection, Gwadar port has made a series of achievements including the inauguration of liner services, Afghan transit trade and liquefied petroleum gas business and is sailing towards the dream of becoming a “New Dubai” in Pakistan.

It is hoped that the improvement the CPEC has brought to Pakistan’s transport infrastructure and Gwadar port can facilitate trade with Afghanistan and Central Asian countries, which will, in turn, tap the full potential of the corridor.

The sufficient energy supply under CPEC energy projects has paved the way for the boom of Pakistan’s national economic and social activities, enabling the country to embark on a path of clean and green development.

CPEC has also modernized Pakistan’s means of transportation. In Lahore, the launch of the South Asian country’s first-ever metro train service last October has provided a modern, comfortable and eco-friendly way of travelling for over 11 million residents in the city. It has become a popular choice among local people and is expected to facilitate traffic and reduce air pollution in the city.

Meanwhile, the CPEC’s other transport infrastructure projects including the Karakoram Highway Phase-II and the Sukkur-Multan Motorway have connected different provinces of Pakistan in a modern and better way, facilitating transportation, trade and people’s travel.

Till now, a total of 46 CPEC projects are under construction or have been completed and the corridor has brought $25.4 billion in foreign direct investment to Pakistan and created 75,000 jobs for the locals, serving as a focal point for China and Pakistan to drive practical cooperation.

With fruitful achievements, the CPEC has entered a new stage of high-quality development, focusing more on industrial, agricultural and socio-economic cooperation.

The Pakistani government plans to develop nine special economic zones across the country under the CPEC to promote its industrialization.

As the first one of its kind being implemented, the Rashakai special economic zone in the KP is pushing forward its construction and inviting investors, along with the building of the first factory invested by a Chinese company in the zone.

Time and again Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan projected the strategic importance of CPEC for the socio-economic development of Pakistan.

Rather he attached future economic development, stability and sustainability directly to the CPEC.

Initiation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) at an economically challenging time for Pakistan is a Chinese vote of confidence to Pakistan. CPEC has already proven to be a success story.

Pak-China relations were built on a strong foundation of trust and complementarity of interests.

Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong projected that “POWERCHINA” has inked an agreement with WAPDA for the 1,410 MW fifth extension of Tarbela Hydropower Project.

The project will start electricity generation by mid-2024 and thereon supply 1.81 billion units of low-cost and clean electricity to the National Grid.

Recently, Pakistan launched its Karachi Nuclear Power Plant with the help from China as USD 34 billion have been earmarked for energy projects under CPEC. The Chinese BRI had 56 economic zones in 20 countries, nine of which were in Pakistan.

2020 was a period of market cultivation under CPEC in which the emphasis was on reducing barriers to economic development of Pakistan.

Being a prominent regional expert of CPEC & BRI, I suggest that we should jointly work to make Pak-China friendship an “everlasting spirit” because spirits “never die”. There is an urgent need to work on start of “Silk Health Route, Corridor of Knowledge,

agricultural development, converting deserts of sands into hubs of greenery, sustainable military cooperation in Anti-Ballistic Missiles System, unmanned drones, stealth air fighter, unmanned naval warship and last but not the least, cooperation in artificial intelligence technologies.