By Yao Jing
PAKISTAN Prime Minister Imran Khan paid four-day visit last week and attended the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which was held from April 25 to 27 in Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping presided the Forum attended by 39 heads of state and government, and international organisations. The leaders had an in-depth discussion on regional connectivity, closer partnership, green and sustainable growth under the theme “Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future”.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims at enhancing all-around connectivity through infrastructure construction, exploring new driving force for the world economic growth, and building a new platform for world economic cooperation. It has been well received and gained a quick momentum of development since then. By now, 126 countries and 29 international organisations have signed cooperation agreements with China to jointly build the Belt and Road.
Through six years of hard work, the BRI has laid its groundwork and entered the stage of all-round growth. It is becoming a widely-participated platform for international cooperation and a widely-welcomed international public goods. It is also becoming roads of cooperation, prosperity, openness, green and clean development and a win-win outcome benefiting people of all countries.
As the host country of the Forum, China has been working closely with all parties to prepare for this big event with openness, inclusiveness and transparency, upholding the principle of wide-consultation and joint-cooperation for shared benefits. By taking this opportunity, we would like to summarise past experience, plan for the future, build consensus and promote high-quality development of the Belt and Road cooperation.
The Forum is expected to voice the firm support for multilateralism and an open world economy, enrich the principles of the BRI towards people-centred and sustainable cooperation, build a network of partnership based on equality, and establish more supporting mechanisms for high-quality cooperation. China will introduce the latest measures and outcomes of its reform and opening-up policy, share the dividends of its economic growth, and bring more opportunities to the development of all countries. I believe that the forum will inject stronger impetus into the world economy, open broader horizon for the development of the countries, and contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for humanity.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a significant pilot project of the BRI and a significant project for the China-Pakistan cooperation in the new era. CPEC is fully in line with the principles of the BRI cooperation. It boasts itself of mature and effective cooperation mechanism, remarkable progress in the fields of Gwadar Port, energy, transportation infrastructure and industrial cooperation. Eleven of the 22 early harvest projects have been completed and the rest of 11 projects are under smooth construction. China and Pakistan agreed that CPEC has entered a new stage of broadening and expansion, which presents new features:
— Taking people-centred approach as the major task. China will focus more to help improve Pakistani people’s livelihood. We established the China-Pakistan Medical Emergency Centre in Gwadar in 2017. After running for one and a half years, the Centre has provided free physical examinations for 2,921 people and distributed 4,280 kinds of medicines for local people.
In 2016, we built the Gwadar Faqeer School with designed capacity of 150 students. However, the local villagers enthusiastically enrolled their children and now 503 students are studying there. Adela, a daughter of a local fisherman, is studying free of charge in the school with many of her classmates. Now, we are planning to meet the education dream of more local children.
According to the needs of the Pakistani side, China has increased its assistance in people’s livelihood sector. As agreed by both governments, agriculture, education, medical treatment, poverty alleviation, water supply and vocational training will be key cooperation areas. The CPEC Joint Working Group (JWG) of Social Economic cooperation has sorted out a number of ‘short and fast’ and ‘small but beautiful’ livelihood projects, including establishing agricultural demonstration centers, poverty alleviation demonstration villages, vocational training schools and hospitals, and increasing scholarships for Pakistani students in China. We will carry forward the people’s livelihood projects to the underdeveloped areas such as Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces, and make the CPEC a ‘corridor for the people’.
— Taking industrial cooperation as a priority. China and Pakistan have different industrial advantages, which are highly complementary. We already have relevant cooperation projects. Last year, Chinese Changan Auto manufacturer collaborated with Pakistan Master Motor Corporation to establish a plant in Karachi with an initial capacity of 30,000 vehicles a year. Deli China and JW Sez Group inaugurated a Glass Manufacturing Complex with an investment of $200 million. Ant Financial Services Group, the financial affiliate of China Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, invested $185 million in Easypaisa, a 45 per cent stake in Pakistani e-wallet to create a localised version of its Alipay APP. And in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, Rashakai SEZ, the first SEZ under CPEC will start its construction soon.
Prime Minister Imran Khan and his several ministers have told me that they hope to further strengthen the China-Pakistan industrial cooperation and attract more Chinese investment to Pakistan. Industrial cooperation requires not only government guidance, but also social resources and private capital investment. China has identified industrial cooperation as one of the pillars of the new phase of CPEC and will continue to encourage more Chinese enterprises to invest in Pakistan. It is believed that with the implementation of the preferential policies by Pakistani government and improvement of the business environment, more and more enterprises from different countries, including China, will set up joint ventures in Pakistan.
— Promoting third-party cooperation in a principled way. CPEC has attracted more and more interests from regional countries. China welcomes the willingness of cooperation as long as they are conducive to stability, development and prosperity. Recently, the first meeting of the CPEC International Cooperation Coordination Working Group was held in Beijing. During this meeting, China and Pakistan agreed to cooperate with third parties on the basis of consensus and full deliberation. I believe that the involvement of third parties will further highlight the inclusiveness and openness of CPEC, and play a leading role in regional connectivity and common development.
China and Pakistan are good friends, brothers and partners. Our friendship has withstood the test of time and history. Under careful cultivation of generations after generations, the seeds of the China-Pakistan friendship have grown into a big tree deeply rooted in the hearts of our people. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, the China-Pakistan relations should be a model of good neighborly friendship, a pillar of regional peace and stability, and a benchmark for international cooperation under the BRI. China sincerely hopes that Pakistan will develop and prosper, and is willing to help Pakistani friends to live a better life. We believe that CPEC will always play a leading role in moving the BRI cooperation towards high-quality development, bringing more benefit to the two people, and contributing more to the China-Pakistan cooperation and regional prosperity. Honourable Prime Minister, welcome to China!