BEIJING, FEB 17 – Pakistan welcomes other countries to participate in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a key project under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), as it is not only beneficial for Pakistan, but for the entire region, Pakistan Ambassador to China, Moin ul Haque said on Wednesday.
“CPEC has now been opened with the consensus of Pakistan and China to third country participation and we welcome other countries to participate in this transformational project,” he said in an interview with Phoenix TV.
About the joining of regional countries to the CPEC, he said that Afghanistan is already participating. Recently, a shipment from Afghanistan was cleared from Gwadar port. He said that infrastructure and connectivity projects can also take place between Pakistan, China and Afghanistan and emphasized that it will help peace and stability in Afghanistan also.
Ambassador Haque said that India never accepted the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping and never joined it.
Updating on CPEC, he said, it was going very smoothly and steadily, adding, “We have completed the early harvest phase in which we have focused on infrastructure and energy projects and development of Gwadar Port which has helped Pakistan not only upgrade its road and communication network but it helped Pakistan addressed acute shortage of electricity”.
In energy sector, he said that nine projects amounting to US $18 billion have been completed and which have inject 5300 MW of electricity into national grid and three more electricity projects of about 3000 MW are in the pipeline which was essential for the industry and consumers and common household.
In second phase, we are focusing on those areas which touch people he said and added, the BRI as a whole project is a people centric project as it has been embraced by 130 countries because it is development-oriented and is helping people lives and bringing new jobs and opportunities and upgrading infrastructure and the CPEC is doing the same thing.
Ambassador Haque said that CPEC has helped develop remote areas of Pakistan, create, jobs and upgraded skills of the people. He said that a agriculture and socioeconomic development was very important part of the CPEC Phase-II, so it was completely in line with the development agenda of the Pakistani government.
Terming Pakistan and China partnership and relationship as a factor of peace and stability in the region, he said the relationship between Pakistan and China are unique and special and in thick or thin, rain or shine, the two countries have always stood together. “That is why we call it all weather strategic cooperative partnership.”
He said this relationship has been constant irrespective of changes of any governments in the two countries and irrespective of changes of any regional or international development. So, this is the testimony of successive leadership, successive generations of people that has given this relationship a new meaning and significant.
Ambassador Haque said that this year marks 70 years of establishment of bilateral relationship between Pakistan and China, a very important milestone for our two countries.
He said that every phase of our relationship is important during last 70 years which gave a new vitality of our relationship. We established diplomatic relations in 1951 the first high level contact between our two countries was in 1955 and Premier Zhou En Lai met our then Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Bogra in Bandung, Indonesia.
And, the first contact laid the foundation for future relationship when in next year Premier Zhou En Lai visited Pakistan and people of Pakistan were impressed by his sagacity, simplicity and charisma and very positive outlook for the future relations. He said that Premier Zho En Lai visited Pakistan four times later on and he became a household name in Pakistan.
He said that Pakistan and China signed a boundary agreement and it was a time when question on boundaries led to conflicts. During war with India in 1965, China stood with Pakistan wholeheartedly and that was the time when political relationship was transformed into love in the hearts of people.
In 1970s, Pakistan played a key role bringing China and the US closer and it changed the dynamic of cold war in that times. Ambassador Haque said, in the turn of this century, there was very important development in civil nuclear energy field cooperation between the two countries.
China helped Pakistan setting up very important nuclear energy plants like Chashma-1 and Chasham-2 and now Pakistan has four such nuclear plants which are contributing in addressing our energy needs.
In recent time, when President Xi Jinping visited Pakistan in April 2015, the relationship between the two countries was elevated to all weather strategic cooperative partners, he added. “The visit gave a new dimension to our relationship and it was the most important visit that Pakistan organized in many years.”
To a question about Covid-19 pandemic, he said it was one of unprecedented health crisis faced by the entire global community and Pakistan was also impacted but through prudent policies of the government like smart lockdown and taking care of the poor segments of the society and trying to keep the economic activities going, this strategy has worked.
“We have been able to control the pandemic to a large extent. Now, we are going through second wave of pandemic and the government is taking measures to control this also”, he added.
Appreciating prevention and control measures adopted by China to fight the pandemic, he said, the way the Chinese government and people have controlled this pandemic is exemplary.
About his future plans, he said that there are some areas where the two countries could do more in economic relationship. “We have launched FTA Phase-II but because of the Covid-19 we could not fully implement it. I will work to enhance trade between the two countries”.
Under CPEC framework, he said that the two countries could enhance cooperation in agriculture, science and technology, vocational training, poverty alleviation and tourism. He said that efforts are being made to increase people to people contact and cultural exchanges. Last October, a Pakistani movie was screened in China after 45 years and it was well received.
He pointed out that both countries are taking concrete steps to enhance tourism and invited the Chinese tourists to visit Pakistan and explore its beautiful places and culture. “We have developed a Chinese website to promote tourism between Pakistan and China and we will launch it soon”, he said.