CPEC Phase-II revives:a new stage

By Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan | Gwadar Pro Aug 3, 2023

Editor's Note: The author is Executive Director of the Center for South Asia & International Studies (CSAIS) Islamabad and Regional Expert on China, BRI & CPEC. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of Gwadar Pro.

For a long time, the false propaganda of the Western media about slowdown of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project construction has been clarified repeatedly. However, during the recent visit of Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng to Pakistan, some Western media once again used this as a hype gimmick to attack CPEC.

During the visit, He Lifeng held several high-level meetings with the Pakistani leadership of all circles, discussing the current progress of CPEC, the development plan for the next stage, and important issues such as the safety and security of Chinese workers in Pakistan.

Clearly, the strong political commitment between the two countries reflects the strategic importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Phase I and Phase II projects. In order to further strengthen bilateral relations and prepare for the next phase of the projects, China and Pakistan have signed many significant memorandums of understanding, including a MoU on establishing an export exchange mechanism within the framework of CPEC; a protocol of phytosanitary requirements for the export of dry chillies from Pakistan to China and a document on the final report on the feasibility study of realignment of KKH Phase-II. Both sides also signed through diplomatic channels an MoU on the industrial workers exchange programme as well as minutes of the 21st conference of a technical committee to promote the strategic ML-1 project.

Besides, these projects aim to foster exchange program of the workforce associated with CPEC projects for skills development, technical training, language courses, and Chinese experience sharing in special economic Zones (SEZs) development.

Hopefully, it would open a new window of opportunity for Pakistan to seek intellectual support and consultation for China-Pakistan capacity building cooperation and conduct in-depth exchanges of Chinese experts with the Pakistani government and enterprises.

It further enhanced competitiveness of CPEC workforce to meet local industrial requirements and also supported the requirements of skilled labour to attract Chinese industrial relocation envisaged through CPEC industrial cooperation.

While addressing a special ceremony to celebrate the completion of first decade of CPEC, both leaders paid rich tribute to CPEC for its positive contribution to Pakistan’s socio-economic development and has also transformed Pakistan’s economic landscape by removing infrastructure impediments and reducing energy deficits.

On his part, Vice Premier He also read a special message of President Xi Jinping, congratulating the government and people of Pakistan on the completion of the first Decade of CPEC. It narrates complete historical journey of the CPEC starting from 2013 advancing under the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and had achieved a number of early harvests. Definitely, it has added new impetus to the economic and social development of Pakistan and laid a good foundation for regional connectivity and integration.

In short, under the current changing geopolitical situation and the wave of globalization, Pakistan's economic development has to be affected as a part of it. Nevertheless, China, as a brother country, has always provided unconditional and generous humanitarian assistance to the Pakistani government and people at the first time (such as the uninterrupted assistance during the recent floods).

In the future, the two countries will continue to join hands and cooperate closely in various fields. It can be said that Vice Premier He's visit vividly reflects the high degree of mutual trust and unconditional cooperation spirit between the two countries in various fields such as special economic zone construction, financial cooperation, comprehensive industrial and agricultural development, poverty eradication, energy and green solutions.

In the future, policy makers in Pakistan should continue to seize the opportunity to create a more efficient, smooth and safe development environment for CPEC projects.

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