Connecting 3 billion hearts and building a shared destiny

By Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/15 19:53:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Nothing gives me more pleasure than to be in China - my second home - a country Pakistanis love from the core of their souls. This world as we know it - from time immemorial, has strived for connection. Humanity understood in its very early stages that without travel and trade, and without gathering knowledge from lands nearby and afar, progress was not possible. Progress translates into survival and connectivity ensured our survival.

As world leaders and leading intellectuals gather in Beijing for the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, we see two trends emerging on the global stage; regions that are talking of isolationism and regions that are embracing global cooperation and greater connectivity. Mercifully we live in the region that is open to connectivity and closer ties.

The old Silk Routes of trade also acted as conduits for exchange of ideas and spread of knowledge - the channels of diplomacy - through which empires talked with each other. The economies of our time and of our future need the very same routes; new roads, new railroads, new sea ports and better air links are needed. In addition, our economies need to be ready for better cyber-connectivity as well, for this would provide better, faster and more robust flow of information, enhance global knowledge, augment our banking and commerce and above all bring our cultures closer.

Pakistan is a proud partner of China on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The framework came into being inspired by President Xi Jinping and has become an international benchmark of how nations can collaborate to uplift living standards across borders. 

As the Belt and Road concept becomes a reality in different regions across Asia, the Mideast and further into Europe, I am sure that experience gathered from CPEC shall be found extremely useful.

In the past years, I have had the distinct honor of meeting with President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and the members of Communist Party of China on many occasions. I am thrilled by their sense of a shared destiny, their determination to connect the world and truly ensure that each and every region across the Belt and Road initiative becomes a true beneficiary of the fruits of global collaboration. 

This concept of "shared destiny" comes from a place of serious goodwill and deep respect for others. To articulate this on the global stage required a statesman of President Xi's stature and we are fortunate that he's done it with due passion and we see immaculate follow-through of his vision at every level in China and in China's policy abroad. 

The fruits born of such connectivity are indeed manifold, as they emanate from the idea of a "shared destiny." It naturally helps align the world to take care of its collective treasures - the most important being the environment. The air we breathe, the land we live on and water we need to survive; these are all shared assets that need to be taken care of. This collaboration no doubt shall help us all think deeper about our environment and to take due steps to keep it in good order.

The Belt and Road connects almost 3 billion people in a string of multi-level collaborations. Never has humanity been connected together in this manner before. This provides great avenues for cooperation from healthcare to human development and training; from cultural exchanges and celebration of life to ensuring safety and security. So much is possible under this umbrella. We can all imagine that such close ties shall ensure global peace and promote tolerance and harmony between regions and religions, states and polities, for tolerance is the key to stability and without stability there can be no success. 

In Pakistan, various projects are being carried out at great speed and an unprecedented level of transparency under the Belt and Road banner called CPEC. Come and see the highways from the rooftops of the mighty Himalayas to the vast lands of Balochistan and the port of Gwadar at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz. Witness the early fruit of cooperation, notably the gigantic power plants, many of which have already come online and run our extensive industrial parks.

Pakistan is a proud example of collaboration with China. We keenly look forward to playing your proud hosts.

The author is chief minister of Punjab Province of Pakistan.  Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion

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