CPEC & New Value-Additions

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Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has now been blessed with many new value-additions. The appointment of the new Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan H.E. Nong Rong having diversified rich experience of trade and commerce, effective good governance, statehood, people-oriented politics, social development, economic planning, interfaith harmony, community development and above all seeking more and more foreign direct investment (FDIs) is indeed a new value-addition for the further development of the CPEC.

With the arrival of the new Chinese Ambassador with such superior human and professional qualities having clarity of purpose and political will, it is hoped that CPEC 2nd phase may be initiated very soon in the country. It is also hoped that the new Ambassador will translate all his practical experience and there may be upward push from both the countries, planning and development ministries, foreign offices, finance departments, various regulatory bodies, business-to-business contacts and last but not the least, solid foundation of trust and mutual cooperation even among the private companies associated in the CPEC in the days to come. It seems that now delays may be converted into brigades of development, pressures may be dispelled into mutual spells of prosperity and last but not the least, hurdles may be dismissed into unshakeable harmonious stances in the days to come.

While meeting with CPEC Authority Chairman Lt Gen (R) Asim Saleem Bajwa, Mr. Nong upheld Beijing’s desire to build CPEC as a high quality model project of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). During the meeting both exchanged in-depth views on China-Pakistan relations and the construction of CPEC projects. Minister Counsellor Pang Chunxue and Chief Executive Officer of Corridor Affairs Authority Ali Shah were also present on the occasion.

CPEC Authority Chairman General Bajwa warmly welcomed Ambassador Nong to take up his new post and termed the traditional friendship between China and Pakistan as deeply rooted in the hearts of the people. Gen Bajwa labeled CPEC an important mega project to change the destiny of Pakistan which also has the heartfelt support of the Pakistani government and people.

Moreover, General Bajwa assured utility and commitment of the CPEC Authority to providing a “One-Window” facility for CPEC which would further strengthen spells of communication and coordination with China to jointly promote new progress in cooperation in important areas such as Gwadar Port, infrastructure, industry, agriculture, social-economy.

On his part, the Chinese Ambassador appreciated the CPEC Authority Chairman’s firm support for China-Pakistan relations and thanked him and the CPEC Authority for their work. Ambassador Nong termed China and Pakistan friendship as strategic and the CPEC a pilot project of all-round cooperation between the two countries. He hoped that with the care and support of the top leaders of the two countries, the construction of the CPEC would achieve positive results.

Furthermore, Chinese envoy assured the strong commitment of his embassy to strengthen communication and cooperation with the CPEC Authority, further implement the consensus of the leaders of the two countries, actively prepare for the 10th JCC, deepen and expand cooperation in the areas of industrial parks, agriculture and social-economy under CPEC.

Mr. Nong Rong seems to have a very active nature with immense positive energy to proceed further in the right direction to expedite the CPEC projects in the country. Ambassador Nong had a meaningful meeting with the Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi who stressed the need for expeditious progress on CPEC projects.

During the meeting Foreign Minister Qureshi stressed the need particularly called for speeding up the completion of CPEC projects at Gwadar so that the upcoming port could achieve its potential. He sought increased cooperation in the diverse sectors of the national economy especially in the agriculture sector and opportunities for Pakistan to export its agricultural products to Chinese market. Agriculture projects were also part of the CPEC-II.

Pakistani Foreign Minister hoped that the upcoming 10th meeting of the Joint Cooperation Com­mittee would be fruitful and mutually beneficial and would approve the inclusion of mega projects in the CPEC. He highlighted the importance Pakistan atta­ch­es to the ML-1 project for expansion and reconstruction of the railway tracks. The $6.8 billion project is planned to be executed with the help of 90 per cent Chinese loans.

On his part, the Chinese Ambassador showed his country’s firm support for timely completion of CPEC projects which would strive to make it a high-quality demonstration project of the BRI.

Much awaited project the Orange Line, an early harvest project under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has been inaugurated in Lahore introducing an era of mass-transit system in the country which has multiplier effects. The completed projects under the flagship of the CPEC have greatly improved the country’s transport infrastructure and power supply, created more than 70,000 local jobs, contributed 1 to 2 percent to Pakistan’s GDP growth every year and significantly boosted its socio-economic development and people’s wellbeing.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin, in a regular press conference, termed CPEC an important pilot BRI project and a flagship for China-Pakistan bilateral cooperation. He briefed that since 2013 major progress has been achieved and a lot of projects have been launched or completed, bringing over $25 billion of direct investment to Pakistan.

Chinese spokesman highlighted the strategic importance of Gwadar seaport. He further showcased CPEC diversified utility in terms of immense socio-economic benefits and befitting propositions to both the countries and which has further enhanced regional connectivity and common development. Gwadar Port has been functional and nearly 20,000 tons of commodities such as wheat, sugar and fertilizer have been transferred via the port to Afghanistan since the first half of the year, creating almost 1,000 jobs in this process

The Chinese Ministry assured its firm support to the building of CPEC and further focused on cooperation in areas like social welfare, industries and agriculture while advancing existing projects and forging the CPEC into a demonstration program for quality BRI cooperation that brings more benefits to people in China, Pakistan and the whole region.