The media delegation's 4-day visit to Punjab ignites CPEC romance
Editor's Note: The author is Chairman of the Institute of International Relations and Media Research (IIRMR). The article only reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily of Gwadar Pro.
A China-Pakistan Economic Corridor media (CPEC) delegation, co-sponsored by the Chinese Consulate General in Lahore and the Institute of International Relations and Media Research (IIRMR), has successfully concluded its 4-day visit to Punjab.
Since the launch of CPEC in 2013, it was first such program organized to showcase how CPEC projects has been improving the quality of life of local people, reducing poverty, creating employment and optimizing the economic structure in Punjab.
The activity, led by IIRMR Chairman Muhammad Mehdi and President Yasir Habib Khan, along with Chinese Commercial Attache Yan Yang and Secretary to CG Chen Bo, was part of ongoing series of celebrations of 10th anniversary of CPEC, an ace undertaking of global iconic project Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) envisioned by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
On the first day, high-octane delegation visited Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) considered as “a gift from President Xi Jinping to the people of Pakistan” and also “the flower of friendship between two nations.”
Mr. Lichen, the CEO of NORINCO-GMG-DAEWOO JV, the O&M service provider for the Orange Line Metro Rail, along with other senior management personnel shed light about performance of OLMT, South Asia’s first electric train under CPEC, that crossed milestone of 100 million rides so far since its launch in 2022.
During the visit, the delegation was given a live demonstration of the state-of-the-art Operation Control Room, highlighting the advanced technology and monitoring systems utilized to ensure seamless operations and passenger safety.
The Orange Line team emphasized the significance of regular maintenance and cleanliness in maintaining a world-class metro service. The delegation was impressed with the level of expertise and meticulous attention to detail that goes into maintaining the rolling stock.
The Orange Line team emphasized the importance of regular maintenance and cleaning to maintain world-class subway service. The delegation was deeply impressed by the team members' professionalism and meticulous attention to detail in vehicle maintenance.
The visit culminated in the members taking the train to Anarkali Station (Station 13), where Orange Line management presented the delegation members with souvenirs as a thank you for their visit.
On the second day, the delegation visited Allama Iqbal Industrial City (AIIC), a special economic zone prioritized under the framework of CPEC, covering an area of about 3,217 acres, led by Muhammad Tanveer Jabbar, the CEO of Faisalabad Industrial Estate Development & Management Company (FIEDMC).
Adjacent to the M3 Industrial City, it has the advantages of many projects such as textiles, medicine, information technology, chemicals, automobiles, and service complexes. The representatives interacted with the CEOs of Chinese companies, especially Times Ceramics and Green Crockery. Zhang Qi, CEO of Times Ceramics, revealed that the company's current market share in Pakistan has reached 23 percent, and the company has introduced new technologies to help Pakistan's export growth. Since the company was founded, 95 percent of its employees have been locals, he said. Zhang Qi, CEO of Green Crockery, announced that last month, the company exported products worth Rs 1 crore to the UK for the first time, marking a milestone as an export-oriented enterprise promoting the mission of CPEC. He added that the overall employment rate of women in the company is 20 percent and is gradually increasing. Now instead of importing from China, Pakistani traders can produce their desired goods at such companies in AIIC.
Third day, the delegation visited the 1320MW Sahiwal Coal-fired Power Plant, the first energy project of CPEC. The Vice President Chen Wei introduced the company's outstanding status, influence and achievements in providing more than 43 billion kWh of energy to the State Grid.
Being a joint venture project between Huaneng Shandong Power Generation Company and Shandong Ruyi Group, the project has an investment of about USD 1.8 billion. It is the largest, fastest and first environmentally friendly coal-fired power plant built under CPEC. Its technical and environmental indicators are all optimal. To ensure the strictest green ecological standards are maintained, the project's emissions of harmful gases and mercury remain below official values set by the World Bank, Japan, the European Union and Pakistan, Chen added.
The project has filled a quarter of the country's electricity shortage and met the electricity needs of more than 4 million households. It has won the highest honor in China's power industry and the highest award in China's construction field - China National Quality Engineering Gold Award, as well as Pakistan's Federal and provincial awards. Chinese engineers have also trained many Pakistani engineers as part of technology transfer under the framework of CPEC.
Finally, the delegation visited the Lahore conversion site of the 886 km HVDC Matiari-Lahore transmission line operated by Pak Matiari-Lahore Transmission Company (PMLTC) Pvt Ltd. Lahore-Matiari is the first transmission line project under CPEC to transport electricity from power stations in Sindh to load centers in Punjab. It will also feed electricity from an indigenous coal-fired power plant under construction in the Thar region of Sindh province.
Ma Desheng, deputy CEO of PMLTC, revealed that PMTC will realize free load shedding in Lahore next year. He added, "The Matiyari-Lahore transmission line is bridging Pakistan's energy gap and boosting its economic growth." In addition, two more lines are under construction to further meet the region's energy needs.
The delegation also visited Challenge factory owned and operated by a Chinese company. In response to the call of the Belt and Road Initiative, Shanghai Yuanyi Industrial Co., Ltd. invested in Pakistan in 2014 to establish the first overseas export-oriented garment manufacturer, which is the third one after the two production bases in Shanghai and Hubei. So far, the challenge has expanded from the initial small factory of 300 employees to the current scale of 4,000 employees, and its sales performance has climbed to more than USD 60 million, ranking among the top 100 exporters in Pakistan.