Green CPEC: A way forward

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Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

GREEN is the future of humanity on the planet which has already been affected by severe climate change. Green is also the future of socio-economic prosperity and economic sustainability. In this context, Pakistan and China agreed to transform the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) into a model green Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to protect and preserve the natural environment in the region.

Hopefully, it will preserve the environment as well as accelerate the pace of green technologies and production of green energies channels in the ongoing projects of the CPEC in the country. Intensified plantation, development/support of natural forestation, bee’s honey hatcheries/production and last but not the least green tourism activities would play a pivotal role.

Despite the Western propaganda, China is one of the main drivers of green technologies, the hub of alternative energies and the biggest investor of renewables in the world having resources and appropriate expertise to assist Pakistan to maintain an ideal equilibrium between industrialization and green environment in the future.

The President of China Xi Jiping has already announced a comprehensive policy to launch a transcontinental drive for achieving desired goals of green development in all the member countries of the BRI. In this connection, the green initiative was thoroughly discussed and decided during a meeting held between the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam and a three-member delegation headed by China’s Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong.

During the meeting, various important issues were tabled and considered such as environmental sustainability, climate resilience, renewable energy, green economic recovery, air pollution, water conservation and disaster risk reduction.

Malik Amin Aslam briefed the Chinese Ambassador that the government had already launched an ambitious Protected Areas Initiative under the umbrella program ‘Clean Green Pakistan’ aiming to expand the country’s protected area from 13 percent to more than 15 percent by 2023 and create 5,000 green jobs across the country.

He further shared the details of the green initiatives taken by the government along with diversified but integrated programs started by the Federal Ministry of Climate Change, including the world’s largest Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Program, Clean Green Pakistan, Protected Areas Initiative, Plastic-Free Pakistan and Recharge Pakistan Initiative.

On his part, the Chinese Ambassador assured his government’s commitment and support for the green vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan full of remarkable green initiatives, including Green Stimulus and post-Covid-19 green recovery for restoring the livelihood of the people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The CPEC is now supporting massive industrialization and agricultural development in the country in which the private sector may play a positive, productive and participatory role through innovations, modern technologies and plenty of financial resources. Recently, the reconstituted CPEC Business Council plays a very important role in promoting private sector’s meaningful participation in the various ongoing flagship projects of the CPEC. The government facilitates the private sector to speed up large-scale industrial units in the country. Moreover, the government also ensures the establishment of large-scale manufacturing units and information technology zones under CPEC. Pakistan has a huge potential in petrochemical, steel manufacturing and IT sectors which may play a contributory role for the development of the country with the help of Chinese and other potential investors.

Board of Investment (BOI) Chairman said the government was fully committed to ensuring a business-friendly environment by providing incentives to the industry. He ensured efficiency in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) which offer the one-window operation of world-class. In this connection, Rashakai SEZ will be a model zone, followed by Dhabeji SEZ, which is uniquely placed and open for local and foreign investors equally. The service sector has also vast potential for FDIs and joint ventures and the establishment of IT zones will further facilitate information technology and software development.

Furthermore, electronics, vehicle and mobile phone manufacturing policies have now been included and showcased which can be adopted for hardware manufacturing with support of the private sector especially with the help of Chinese investors. CPEC Business Council proposed inclusion of new sectors and projects like petrochemical production and a petrochemical cracker plant may be included in CPEC.

In addition to this, the tourism sector could also be promoted by offering incentives and financial support. It was further suggested that one-window operation for economic zones be made under one authority with representation from all the ministries concerned to make the country an investment-friendly destination.

Participating private sector representatives recommended that renminbi-based transactions should be facilitated for bilateral trade and investment with China for which business visas and work visas for foreign experts should be enhanced. On the contrary, Western media is still propagating false and untrue news against the CPEC by projecting it as a failed proposition and terming it slow retrieval of the Chinese government from the CPEC.

A prejudiced article titled “China slowly retreating from Pakistan’s Belt and Road” written by FM Shakil in the Asian Times dated 26-12-2020 highlighted systematic slowing of the CPEC projects. It also pinpointed various false statements of government ministers and officials indicating widening trust deficit between Pakistan and China, thus building his argument that CPEC is a mismatched befitting proposition.

The said article is the classic example of foreign falsehood narrative indicating the paramount role of defence forces of Pakistan in the CPEC with imminent danger of its complete take-over of the Chinese CPEC infrastructure development building plan consisting of railways, roads, ports and special economic zones (SEZs).

It claimed promulgation of the bill in Pakistan’s parliament to give the military a firmer hold over the CPEC initiative and its related multi-billion dollar contracts, a martial move some see as aimed at reassuring Beijing that their investments will be more secure amid militant attacks on Chinese engineers and others facilitating the infrastructure projects.

In this regard, being a prominent regional expert of the BRI & CPEC, I strongly reject all these untrue news and fabricated articles sponsored by pseudo-intellectuals and so-called economists. Rather slowing of the CPEC projects, it has been further accelerated in the country. Moreover, the CPEC Phase-II is going to be started very soon which may speed-up peace and prosperity.

The unfading onslaught of regional as well as international propaganda urgently demands formation of joint “Pak-China Think-Tank” and “Media House” in which the “Centre for Global Strategic Studies (CGSS) and the daily“Pakistan Observer” would play a “decisive” role to “dispel” national “narratives” of “enemies” of “human prosperity”. Both organizations have “world-class” diversity of “human capital” and “resources” to build a “counter” “narrative” of the CPEC as a “peaceful” “mega” project.

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