Cementing bonds of Pak-China friendship

By Staff Reporter | Pakistan Observer Aug 3, 2023

ON 30 July, the Chinese Vice Premier HE Lifeng landed in Islamabad on a three-day visit to attend a government-sponsored ceremony, thereby marking the 10th anniversary of their infrastructure development collaboration under China’s global Belt and Road Initiative. Both countries say CPEC has brought more than $25 billion in direct Chinese investment to Pakistan, establishing power plants, developing the strategically located deepwater Pakistani port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea and building transport infrastructure. HE Lifeng’s current visit to Pakistan provides a new modus vivendi to the future of Pak-China friendship.

The Pak-China friendship has witnessed several strategic, diplomatic and economic pacts, strengthening their relationship. Earlier, the nature of the relationship was attentive to diplomacy and military; however, both states started promoting economic relations that led to the free trade agreement and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).They share the history of internal instability instigated by nefarious non-state actors, which provides both nations an insight into each other’s problems incited by internal and external elements. Historically, China has never wanted India to establish its hegemony in the region. Therefore, the resilient nature of both states in the face of adversities and shared interests makes them natural allies.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that China hopes that Lifeng’s visit will be an opportunity to implement the important consensus reached between leaders of the two countries, continue to build on past achievements and upgrade the development of the CPEC. “Over the past decade, as an important pioneering project of the BRI, CPEC has achieved fruitful results and become a new benchmark for the friendship between China and Pakistan”. The countries “are all-weather strategic cooperative partners and iron-clad friends,” the Ministry added. As Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission from 2017 to 2023, Vice Premier was instrumental in the planning and successful execution of numerous CPEC projects in Pakistan. His visit is a testament to the enduring bond between the two countries and their commitment to enhancing their strategic partnership.

The 10th-anniversary celebrations marked a decade of successful collaboration and joint projects in infrastructure, energy and economic development projects that have significantly impacted the lives of people in both nations. As the chief guest at this special event, Vice Premier He Lifeng’s presence symbolizes the friendship and shared vision between China and Pakistan. Arguably, the relationship between the states is generally based on political expediencies, but such is not the case of Pak-China relationship which is beyond any means of political expediencies and therefore the scope of this relationship is higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the seas—this affirmation has been reiterated by the Chinese Vice Premier in his speech delivered on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the CPEC.

Due to its strategic location, Pakistan has tremendous economic growth potential, witnessing an upward trend. The agriculture and service industry dominates the economy, while industrialization is relatively low. CPEC has provided an essential foundation to Pakistan’s economy to overcome this issue, emphasizing industrial development, including energy, transportation and infrastructure. There are myriad opportunities for future cooperation in technology and economy such as agriculture technology, marine science, earth science, information and communication technology. And most importantly, tourism and culture are the main drivers of economic growth.

The corridor is a model of the two nations’ adherence to joint construction and sharing of high-quality resources, which has promoted the socioeconomic progress of Pakistan, Li Yong, a senior research fellow at the China Association of International Trade, said on Sunday. The bilateral relationship between the two neighbouring countries is characterized by feelings of mutual trust, respect and goodwill towards each other.

Economically, China is Pakistan’s largest trading partner and a major investor, especially in the infrastructure and energy sectors. During 2018, bilateral trade between the two countries reached US$ 18 billion. With the official launch of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the bilateral relationship has been elevated to a higher level. CPEC is a flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s initiative of “One Road and One Belt”. It aims at enhancing connectivity and improving infrastructure between Pakistan and China. Several projects are being implemented under CPEC for enhancement of infrastructure and generation of energy.

The year of 2015 was celebrated as the Year of Friendly Exchanges between Pakistan and China and several high profile events were organized including seminars, exchange of visits and cultural events to highlight people-to-people interactions. Trans-transport infrastructure is the basic and prerequisite condition for the construction of the CPEC. It is an important field that can be relied on to guide and drive the economic and social development of regions along the CPEC, besides promoting the interconnectivity and all-round cooperation between China and Pakistan for shared prosperity.

China has advantages in infrastructure construction, high-quality production capacity in equipment manufacturing, iron & steel and cement industries as well as financing for investment. While Pakistan owns rich human and natural resources, huge potential for economic growth and broad market prospects besides a geo-strategic location. The orderly and timely flow of economic factors in both countries along the CPEC will significantly improve the resource allocation efficiency and bring into full play the comparative advantage of each country.

And logically, through the joint planning and development of highways, railways, ports, aviation and other infrastructure, a convenient, efficient and integrated transport corridor that includes a variety of modes of transport can be formed to achieve the transition from lagging behind to adaptation and then to moderate advancement in the transport infrastructure of the main nodes along the CPEC.

In order to meet the needs of trade and personnel exchanges between China and Pakistan for the socio-economic development of regions along the CPEC, manifold initiatives have been planned to achieve the desired objectives. As the CPEC enters into the second phase, it is divided into five geographical functional zones from north to south: Xinjiang foreign economic zone, northern border trade logistics and business corridor & ecological reserve, eastern and central plain economic zone, western logistics corridor business zone, and southern coastal logistics business zone.

Moreover, meeting the During 2022.in billion $1 US exceed to expected is volume export agricultural total and 2021, in increase times13 of surplus trade a with rapidly, growing are China to exports agricultural Pakistan’s growth. economic and competitiveness export into advantages labour and advantages resource advantages, geographical Pakistan’s transform better to Pakistan with hands join will China Pakistan. for choice only the and direction future the is China with areas other and CPEC in cooperation deepening that said Shehbaz Minister Prime Jinping, Xi President with (November, 2022) The current MoUs signed during the current visit of Vice Premier He lifeng reflect the vistas of cementing partnership between Beijing and Islamabad.

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