Fresh Impetus on CPEC
By Muhammad Asif Noor | China Economic Net Feb 11, 2022
Editor's note: The writer is Director of Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies, Pakistan. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of China Economic Net.
Discussions on CPEC have remained at the heart of the joint statement released at the end of the comprehensive meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. The statement covers all the significant contours of strategic partnership between China and Pakistan including economy, security, finance, trade, development, and people-to-people contacts. As a crown of BRI, CPEC has made substantial contributions towards the socio-economic development, industrial capacity build-up, and energy infrastructure of Pakistan. CPEC has made headways and transformed the economic ecosystem in the length and breadth of Pakistan.
Major emphasis and discussion have remained on the ongoing phase of CPEC and related processes. Both sides emphasized that CPEC is the flagship project of BRI and is one of the most active corridors of BRI. CPEC, while making effective contributions towards the overall economic and security, trade, and investment well-being of Pakistan, has also made a substantial impact on regional connectivity.
CPEC has the potential to offer peace and a sustainable future especially by connecting Afghanistan to the regional logistics network. Both Pakistan and China are on the same page on the Afghan issue as they strongly believe that a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan is in the best interest of the region. The recently-held two foreign ministers level meetings of the six neighboring countries had fruitful results over the same agenda.
Additional important foreign minister’s meeting is expected to happen in the coming weeks in China. Both countries are also planning to hold China-Pakistan-Afghanistan trilateral dialogue at the Foreign Minister’s level. These meetings and discussions will yield positive results for Afghanistan to benefit from CPEC. The possible extension of CPEC to Afghanistan will escalate the regional integration process and usher in a new era of growth.
Pakistan and China comprehensively reviewed the progress of multiple projects under construction and the results of the functioning infrastructure. The core sectors of CPEC including energy, transport infrastructure, and communication networks are playing a positive role in consolidating the key role of Pakistan in regional connectivity. Thus, both sides reaffirmed their support for high-quality development, guaranteed smooth operationalization of completed projects and expedited the further development agenda under the Framework Agreement on Industrial Cooperation. Both sides agreed that private businesses and entrepreneurs will be invited to invest in CPEC for the promotion of B2B cooperation at the public level to boost localized investments.
The Chinese side appreciated the Prime Minister’s launch of the Pakistan-China Business and Investment Forum, and will enhance B2B cooperation between the business sectors of both countries for trade, agriculture, industrial development, technological cooperation and socio-economic wellbeing. The scope of cooperation also covers health, environment, trade, green corridors, digital corridors, safe cities and education. The leaders agreed to direct the Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) for strengthening the cooperation in these sectors for immediate materialization of planned projects. For interconnectivity, Gwadar port remains at the pivot of the whole cooperation landscape which not only acts as a launching pad of productivity but also as a strong link in the logistics supply chain between China, Pakistan and the world. According to the “1+4” layout, all sides are willing to operationalize Gwadar port and build a low-carbon circular industry zone.
The common understanding of the importance attached to CPEC enables Pakistan and China to safeguard CPEC from all threats including information warfare with full determination. Pakistan reaffirmed China for ensuring the security of Chinese nationals working on CPEC projects and combatting negative propaganda on the security situation in Pakistan. The safe and smooth execution of CPEC projects will create a win-win situation for both China and Pakistan.
At strategic level, this high-level meeting reflects the future dynamics of regional cooperation and its possible challenges. China and Pakistan spearhead the economic front in the region as envisaged by foreign policies of both states with BRI and CPEC at its core respectively. In sum, this meeting has been all encompassing in its entirety of agenda and importance of discussions as reflected in a comprehensive press release.
Pakistan and China, together, are trying to shape the dynamics of the region towards development and growth instead of instability, insecurity and poverty. For these objectives, CPEC is leading to a boost in economic development and wellbeing of Pakistan and soon to Afghanistan and beyond. The escalation in interconnectivity is a positive trajectory for both Pakistan and China and a potential opportunity for neighboring countries.
Muhammad Asif Noor, the writer is Founder Director- Center for BRI and China Studies and Founder Friends of BRI Forum- Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies.