Sino-Pak ties entering a new stage of pragmatic cooperation
Editor's note: Cheng Xizhong, Visiting Professor at Southwest University of Political Science and Law，Special Commentator of China Economic Net, former Defense Attache in South Asian countries. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of China Economic Net.
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games is a global sports event. At a time when countries around the world are enthusiastically participating in the games, some world powers are trying to create trouble for China to host the Olympics Games.
China and Pakistan always stand with each other in difficult times. PM Imran Khan's visit to China for attending the opening ceremony of the games fully demonstrates Pakistan's solidity with China and reflects the special feelings of the Pakistani people for the Chinese people, which is highly appreciated by the Chinese side.
CPEC fruitful results
During the visit, Chinese and Pakistani leaders will hold in-depth talks to explore the potential of pragmatic cooperation between the two countries in the new era, so as to inject new connotation into the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership.
China and Pakistan have traditional friendly relationships, which is substantially consolidated by the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). China and Pakistan jointly build the CPEC, the flagship project of the "Belt and Road", which shows the close relationship and the increasing strategic integration between the two countries.
Over the past eight years, China and Pakistan have worked together, made unremitting efforts, and bravely overcome the difficulties and obstacles such as the extremely serious pandemic, achieving fruitful results of CPEC construction. The completion and operation of a number of power projects have fundamentally alleviated the long-standing shortage of power supply in Pakistan, especially brought cheap clean energy to the Pakistani people. The completion and operation of a number of transportation infrastructure projects have fundamentally changed the backward transportation condition and initially formed a smooth transportation network. The operation of dozens of modernization projects has created conditions for Pakistan's economic take-off and also contributed tax revenue to the Pakistani government, thus improving the country's financial situation.
The rapid progress in the CPEC construction, especially the construction of transportation facilities on the CPEC Western Route, is benefiting all regions and the people of Pakistan.
From the perspective of regional connectivity, the construction of CPEC Western Route as well as Gwadar Port has very important regional strategic significance. Once the transportation infrastructure in west Pakistan is fully completed and Gwadar Port is in full operation, it will create conditions for CPEC westward extension. In this way, the prosperity created by CPEC can radiate to the whole Central and West Asia through Pakistan, so as to realize broader regional connectivity and regional common prosperity, thus greatly improving Pakistan's regional strategic and geo-economic position.
New era cooperation
Lately, pleasant surprises about Pakistan's economic recovery and development have been popping up with happy regularity.
Despite the serious Covid-19 pandemic and various natural disasters, the Pakistani government and people, under the wise leadership of PM Imran Khan, have braved hardships and difficulties and made great achievements for booming economy, which has won full recognition and praise from the international community.
The Gross Domestic Products (GDP) growth reached 5.37% in Financial Year 2021, the second best in the last 14 years. Exports were increased by 29.48% in the first half of the current fiscal year (2021-2022). The exports of services witnessed an increase of 22.94% during the first five months of current fiscal year and IT services’ exports grew by 37.55% during the same period. Its foreign direct investment reached $1.06 billion, a year-on-year increase of 20% during the first half of the current fiscal year. Bloomberg recognized that Pakistan is entering the decade of sustainable growth.
In the past year, the economic and trade relations between China and Pakistan have developed by leaps and bounds. According to the latest figures released by China’s General Administration of Customs, the total value of China’s imports and exports to Pakistan was increased by 59.1% year-on-year in 2021, with exports up by 57.8% and imports up by 68.9%. Bilateral trade between China and Pakistan, especially Pakistan’s exports to China, hit record levels.
The rapid recovery and development of Pakistan’s economy and the substantial increase in Sino-Pak economic and trade volume are closely related to the country’s reference to China’s development experience, the increasing integration of Pakistan’s economy and China’s economy, the spillover effect of China’s rapid development on Pakistan, and particularly, the smooth progress of the CPEC construction.
Now, CPEC construction has entered Phase II and the China-Pakistan all weather strategic cooperative partnership has entered a new era. In the new era, China and Pakistan are expanding all-round cooperation in all fields, including agriculture, tourism, snow & ice economy, green and low carbon development, information technology, aerospace technology and the construction of special economic zones. The cooperation between the two sides has great potential and bright prospects.
The construction of Phase II of CPEC will better serve the interests and needs of the people and reflect the common philosophy of the leaders of the two countries in governing for the people and developing for the people.
As Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan rightly said, Phase-II of CPEC has accordingly been designed for job creation, industrial modernization, livelihood improvement, rural revitalization, socio-economic development and poverty alleviation. “Complementing these projects is my government’s flagship initiative called “Ehsaas,” a large social security network for poverty alleviation and upward social mobility”, PM Imran Khan said.
Sino-Pak shared future
China and Pakistan are good neighbors, friends, partners and brothers. Like Pakistan, China also experienced poverty and backwardness. After decades of efforts, China has eliminated poverty and the people are living a well-off life. We firmly believe that as long as Pakistan makes unremitting efforts, it will also eradicate poverty and embark on the road of prosperity.
Recently, several thematic maps of planning for Lahore city appeared on a Pakistan's website, much like Pudong development zone in Shanghai China. Skyscrapers erected throughout the city, which indicates that Pakistan is on the road of modernization and a better tomorrow for Pakistan is in sight.
Nowadays, China and Pakistan are cooperating in the construction of special economic zones, special technological zones, industrial parks and agricultural demonstration zones. More and more Chinese enterprises are landing in Pakistan with advanced equipment and modern technology. The Chinese enterprises attach great importance to cooperation with Pakistani partners to realize the localization as soon as possible and gradually help Pakistan develop its own ability of self-reliance.
Pakistan is transforming itself from geo-politics to geo-economics and increasing integration with major economies in the world, which is making Pakistan an emerging economy. We sincerely wish Pakistan would become a strong nation and the Pakistani people would live a better life in the days to come. Economically strong Pakistan is conducive to the balance of powers in South Asia and regional peace and stability.