Will Change of Government have any impact on CPEC?

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Prof. Zamir Ahmed Awan

Many of my Chinese friends asked me, after the change of Government, what will happen to CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor)? What will be the future of their ongoing projects? Is our investment in Pakistan safe? Etc.

First; let’s review the history of Pakistan-China relationship, before replying to their concerns. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations with China on 21 May 1951, Pakistan has gone through a series of political ups and downs. Unfortunately our democracy has its own way of dealing with its complex political nature and one aspect is sometimes deviation from national and developmental policies due to change in the governments, but international agreements and commitments are always honored. However, regardless of the difference of political ideologies and manifestos, one policy in particular has stood its ground and that is “China is our all whether and time-tested friend and strategic partner”. This statement is not only true for the civilian government but also stood true for the military governments in the past. Simply speaking, the change of Government or leadership in Pakistan, has never put any negative impact on our relations with China.

Similarly, China has experienced its own political melodramas with various ups and downs in their domestic politics. Weather it was the Long March, Cultural Revolution, Open Door Policy or the Economic Reforms, or Drive against Corruption, etc. It never had any negative impact on our relations.  Whoever, attained the leadership role in China, never went back on China’s “All-Weather Friendship” with Pakistan.

Why Pakistan and China are such close friends? Why do we not have border tension even though we share common borders? Why do we trust each other and help each other without any reward in mind? It is because the basis of our relations is so much principled, and the foundation is so strong, that our relations will never be shaken.  We are friends, neighbors, partners, and believe in non-interference into each other’s domestic issues, respect sovereignty of each other, support and complement each other.

In Chinese history of last 7 decades almost, it has had conflicts with almost all of its neighbors.  China enjoyed extremely good relations with Russia just after its liberation in 1949, but bitterness soon followed in the 1960s and 70s. However, it has gained warmth in the last two decades again.  With Japan, very hostile relations existed after liberation, but relations normalized in 1980s and coldness witnessed in recent few years. China fought a war with India in 1962 and recently is having a border dispute in the Doklam Region. China has border disputes with Vietnam and Myanmar too.  Even the relations with its closest ally North Korea has been dwindling since last several years but tend to improving recently.  The South China Sea has been a major cause of tension between China and countries sharing South China Sea like the Philippines and Vietnam etc.  It is only Pakistan, a unique neighboring country, which has never had any dispute or problem in the last seventy years of history.  Our relations with China are based on very solid and durable footings.

CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) is an artery of the Chinese mega initiative “One Belt One Road” (OBOR). Total investment of OBOR is roughly 900 billion US Dollars, CPEC in one of the 6 proposed Economic Corridors and constitute a small portion of investment that is 62 billion Dollar only. For Chinese, CPEC may be a small investment, but due to its importance, we have declared it as “Flagship Project”. We want to make it an example and role model for the rest of world to be followed. So it is critical and very important for OBOR’s success too.

CPEC is our strategic decision and legal agreement between the two states, projects covered under CPEC are based on strong legal footings, and respective Ministries, Departments and Institutions in both countries own it.  Generally speaking, CPEC is consensus built initiative and backed by the whole nation of China and Pakistan as well. CPEC is the future of this whole region and particularly of Pakistan.  It is a guarantee for our economic growth as well as security too. Importance of CPEC is very well understood by 200 million people of Pakistan. Pakistan is a country ruled by law and Constitution as well as Courts are guaranteed to protect the Chinese investment in Pakistan. Pakistan’s Constitution protects all foreign investments as per “Acts of Parliament protect the interest of  investors –  Foreign Private Investment & Protection Act 1976” and  “Protection of Economic Reforms Act 1992”. It also protects under Reciprocal Protection and Promotion of Investment through Bilateral Agreements: already signed with 47 countries of the world and Avoidance of Double Taxation   with 52 countries. Especially, China and Pakistan are one family, any issue can be resolved within the family amicably.

Democratic elected Government has completed its five-year term on 31 May 2018 and general election will be held in July 2018 for electing the new Government by people of Pakistan. It is a routine matter and part of democratic system of governance in most parts of the world. Recently, newly appointed caretaker Prime minister, Justice ® Nasir Ur Mulk, has taken oath and his interim government has been tasked to hold fair election on time. However, he has in depth understanding of CPEC and its importance. We hope whosoever will be elected in July 2018 election, will also be strong supporter of CPEC. Above all, 200 million people of Pakistan are behind CPEC and we will continue it with the same zeal and spirit.

Based on this background, I have a firm belief that CPEC will move forward, projects under CPEC will continue, Chinese investment in Pakistan is very safe. I request my Chinese friends, trust the State of Pakistan, trust the Constitution of Pakistan, trust the Courts of Pakistan and the Judicial System of Pakistan. CPEC and you, along with your investment, have a very bright future in Pakistan.

Pak-Cheen Dosty Zindabaad/Ba-Zhong Youyi  Wan Sui  (巴中传统友谊万万岁)