Sino-Pak relations flourish to new highs as CPEC picks up steam

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BEIJING, Sept 18 (APP): China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
(CPEC) is the buzz word in Pakistan ever since Chinese President
Xi Jinping visited Pakistan and formally announced the $ 56 Billion
plus deal in April 2015.
The CPEC is an integral part of the Belt and Road initiative,
which aims at connecting the natural deep seawater Gawadar port
in the south of Pakistan with the Xinjiang region of China. For
China, the CPEC would reduce the traveling distance, for its
huge volumes of trade with the Gulf countries, from existing
13000 kilometers to mere 2500 kilometers.
While it will cut down the traveling time from the existing
45 days to only 10 days, it will also reduce the cost of freight
by one third. For Pakistan, it will help build and improve the
much needed infrastructure to flourish the economy and boost
trade, according to an article posted on the website of China
Radio International (CRI).
Relations between Pakistan and China have remained strong
over the years and CPEC has ensured that this bond of friendship
becomes ironclad.
Last week Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif visited
Beijing on an official visit and held a meeting with the Chinese
Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The meeting ensured and strengthened
confidence between the two nations which is evident from Wang
Yi’s remarks.
The real change of economic progress to which Wang Yi alluded
to is not only going to be experienced at the macro level but
will be experienced by people on the local level as well.
Ever since work on the CPEC began, things have started to
change for the better. Roughly 60% of the funding within the
CPEC is allocated for energy projects in Pakistan, some of
these projects have become operational, while work on others
is underway and the issues of the electricity crisis will
be resolved soon.
One has to keep in mind that Pakistan is an agrarian
developing country whose economy has been drastically held
back from registering the requisite levels of growth due
to lack of technology and funding from abroad. Even today
agriculture sector is the mainstay of Pakistan’s economy as
it contributes around 20 percent in the overall gross domestic
product (GDP) but the poor farmers in Pakistan lack the modern
technologies for farming to enhance their yields and for
handling the supply chain of the agriculture goods.
The agriculture sector provides employment to 42.3 percent
of the country’s total labour force. The year 2015-16 saw dismal
performance of the agriculture sector in Pakistan when it
registered negative growth of 0.19 percent against 2.53 percent
of the same period in last fiscal year.
The plan for the CPEC lays out that, thousands of acres of
agricultural land will be leased out to Chinese enterprises to
set up ‘demonstration projects’ in areas ranging from seed
varieties to irrigation technology.
With the agriculture exchanges planned under CPEC, poor
farmers will be equipped with modern technologies and modern
techniques of farming and this will not only benefit the
common farmer folk but will also help ensure food security at
a macro level in Pakistan and in return bolstering agriculture
exports of Pakistan.
Recently various western media outlets have been propagating
stories to spread ill-will in Pakistan and abroad against the
CPEC, but such stories are not garnering traction within societies
because positive changes owed to the CPEC, are being felt by the
local populace of Pakistan and the Chinese.
The local people in Gawadar are happy because of the
developments in the region by Chinese companies. A security
guard named Qadeer Hussain stated: “I have 5 children and
because of the work under the CPEC now our community has a
hospital which is catering to our health needs ; even small
surgeries and emergency cases are being treated, right next
to the same hospital the Chinese people have also built a
primary school where my children get to study in new
classrooms with freshly painted desks.
Similar stories to Qadeer Hussain’s and praises for the
CPEC are reverberating through the areas where work on the
CPEC is underway, construction workers and even engineers
working alongside the Chinese are benefiting from learning
to new technologies and equipment plus gaining knowledge
of new techniques for executing mega projects.
Similarly, the economy of Xinjiang region in China is
also witnessing positive change. The Chinese people are
benefiting from the open trade. People of Xinjiang now
have access to deep sea food from the Arabian Sea, as
it now takes 34 hours for fresh sea food to reach Xinjiang
from Gawadar. Sixteen types of deep-sea edibles items
including lobsters and black sea bass are now being
supplied to Xinjiang via the route of the CPEC.
Among the examples of advancements and benefits,
Alipay is another major change which the people of
Pakistan are going to benefit from. There are no
secure online payments platforms like that of Alipay
and Paypal in Pakistan. It is expected that soon Alipay
will be launched in Pakistan, thus bringing a
revolutionary change in the lives of the people.
Apart from Alipay even work is underway to launch
5G telecommunication networks in Pakistan through Chinese
companies, which will massively boost the communication
infrastructure and services in the country.
Lastly apart from economic problems Pakistan has
suffered immensely due to terrorism. The CPEC will
help curb the menace of terrorism in the region as
rising economic activities will create jobs. China
has been busy in creating channels for peace to
the region in tandem with the CPEC. Recently China
initiated a trilateral Foreign Ministers Forum between
China, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The forum has earned traction as it helped ease
tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan earlier this
year. The next meeting of the forum is expected to
be held by the end of this year. Wang Yi stated last
week after his meeting with his Pakistani counterpart:
“We have identified three priority areas which are
strategic communication, security dialogue and practical
cooperation. And on that basis, we will work on the
trilateral cooperation starting from the easier matters,
and with a goal of establishing a new platform for
regional cooperation.”
The CPEC has been termed as a game-changer for
Pakistan. For China it is important for invigorating
economic development in its Western regions. The two
countries have a lot to gain.
After last week’s meeting between the two foreign
ministers, Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif’s
statement clearly summarizes the Pakistani sentiments
towards China and CPEC when he said, “China and Pakistan
have enjoyed friendly relations based on history, mutual
trust, equality, harmony, non-interference and common
agenda of socioeconomic development, and the people thank
China for the China-Pakistan-Economic Corridor (CPEC), a
flagship project of One Belt One Road Initiative announced
by President Xi Jinping.