CPEC rises as economic legend in region

By Yasir Habib Khan | Gwadar Pro Aug 7, 2023

Editor's Note: The author is President of the Institute of International Relations and Media Research (IIRMR). The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Gwadar Pro.

The recent visit by Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng as part of the celebrations for the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has drawn international attention.

As President Xi Jinping's special envoy, Vice Premier He's visit underscored two indisputable facts. First of all, the actions of the global anti-CPEC and anti-Belt and Road forces are doomed to fail to achieve their goals. President Xi Jinping's vision of building the CPEC is as tenacious as ever. Conspiracy theorists are trying to abort this flagship project by badmouthing the CPEC, but in fact it has been thriving thanks to the efforts of the people of both countries. Secondly, based on the solid foundation of the first phase of the CPEC, Vice Premier He Lifeng enthusiastically blew the clarion call for the second phase.

During the visit, Vice Premier He attended a series of activities and meetings, marking the continuous deepening of the relationship between the two countries and their commitment to promote the continued comprehensive development of the CPEC. After He arrived at the Prime Minister's Office in Islamabad, he was warmly welcomed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and other dignitaries.

The commemorative ceremony was held in Islamabad, where Prime Minister Sharif expressed his gratitude to China for its full cooperation in the early stage of the CPEC. In addition, Prime Minister Sharif emphasized the impact of terrorism on the development of the region,which is undoubtedly a common challenge faced by China and Pakistan, and further and in-depth cooperation between the two countries is urgently needed. In addition, Prime Minister Sharif also thanked China for its support in providing loan assistance at the critical moment.

He Lifeng hailed CPEC as an essential pioneering project under the Belt and Road Initiative. The Vice-Premier assured Pakistan of China's continuous support in enhancing CPEC's standards, sustainability, and livelihood benefits.

In recognition of Vice-Premier He Lifeng's instrumental role in strengthening bilateral ties between China and Pakistan, President Arif Alvi conferred on him Pakistan's second-highest civil award, the Hilal-i-Pakistan (Crescent of Pakistan).

Signing of Six Bilateral Agreements

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, under the witness of Prime Minister Sheikh Baz Sharif and Vice Premier He Lifeng, the two sides held a grand signing ceremony.

The first and second documents were signed by the Minister of Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal, and the Deputy Director of the National Development and Reform Commission of China, aiming at the establishment of the Joint Cooperation Committee of the CPEC and the experts exchange mechanisms within the framework of the CPEC to further enhance knowledge sharing between the two countries. In addition, Zafar Hassan, secretary of the Ministry of National Food Security, and Pang Chunxue, China's chargé d'affaires ad interim, signed the third document to facilitate the export of Pakistani dried chilies to China. The fourth document, signed by Asim Amin, planning member of the State Highway Administration, and China's Chargé d'Affaires ad interim, concerned adjustments to the feasibility study for the second phase of the Karakoram Highway project. In addition, the two sides also signed a MoU on industrial worker exchange projects through diplomatic channels, further strengthening the ties between the labor forces of the two countries. Finally, the two countries agreed to continue to promote the strategic ML-1 project, which has great potential to enhance connectivity and economic growth in the region.

The Significance and Achievements of CPEC

Over the past decade since its inception in 2014, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has emerged as a remarkable success story, attracting a staggering USD 25.4 billion in direct investments. The accomplishments of CPEC are evident in the creation of 192,000 jobs and the generation of 6,000MW of power. Additionally, the corridor has been instrumental in building 510 km of highways and expanding the national transmission network by 886 km. The project's significance goes beyond Pakistan's borders, with China gaining access to the Arabian Sea through the strategically important Gwadar Port. CPEC has made tangible contributions to the nation's development and regional connectivity. The "1+4" cooperation layout, with CPEC at its core and key areas including Gwadar Port, transport infrastructure, energy, and industrial cooperation, has laid a strong foundation for further growth and development.

President Xi’s Message

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message to the decade celebration of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) held in Islamabad, reaffirming China's commitment to work closely with Pakistan to achieve high-standard, sustainable, and livelihood-enhancing outcomes. President Xi’s message was also read out by Chinese Vice Premier in which he praised CPEC as a crucial pioneering project of the Belt and Road cooperation, which has achieved significant early successes since its launch in 2013. The project has been guided by the principles of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefits, leading to substantial advancements in Pakistan's economic and social development and fostering regional connectivity and integration.

President Xi emphasized that CPEC serves as a testament to the all-weather friendship between China and Pakistan, providing a solid foundation for building an even closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era. He assured that China will always stand firmly with Pakistan, and both nations will continue to enhance overall planning, deepen cooperation, and pursue higher standards, broader scope, and greater depth in their partnership.

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