China, Pakistan set to advance CPEC despite naysayers

By Sun Xiaobo Source:Global Times Published: 2018/10/28 23:03:39

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to embark on his first trip to China on November 2 after he was elected to the position in late July and will deliver a keynote speech at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai. His four-day visit comes amid questions as to what he will say about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project under the Belt and Road initiative. He expressed disagreement with the project before the election and there are also claims that Chinese loans have caused a debt trap for Pakistan.

Undue attention and questions have been following Chinese projects and initiatives as many people are still struggling to accept China's rise. But tangible achievements have indeed been made in China-Pakistan cooperation under the CPEC.

In the first phase of the CPEC, China provided Pakistan $19 billion in soft loans and commercial investments, with 22 energy and infrastructure projects completed, said Zhao Lijian, deputy chief of mission in Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, on Friday. Earlier this year, a research report said that the CPEC has provided about 60,000 jobs to Pakistanis since 2015 and would create more than 800,000 new jobs till 2030. Mushahid Hussain Syed, a senator in Pakistan's parliament, believed that CPEC benefits are already evident to the people of Pakistan as it has helped the country achieve a 5.3 percent growth rate in 2017, the highest in 10 years, according to a Xinhua report.

Apparently there is a coherent plan for China's cooperation with Pakistan: Chinese lay the foundation through massive infrastructure construction and on this basis they help Pakistan advance its development in industrial and other sectors, building its basic production system. With enhanced infrastructure, in the next step the two countries would have to focus on industrial development.

Days ahead of Khan's visit, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing said Beijing will put in Chinese capital as well as technology to reinforce and expand Pakistan's manufacturing capacity, key to increasing exports, according to Pakistani newspaper the Daily Times. And in the next phase of the project, there will also be a focus on social sectors including health, education, agriculture and skills development, the ambassador said. This heralds an overall development stage in Pakistan.

Pakistan is the only country with which China has built an all-weather strategic cooperative partnership and the two are widely known as "iron brothers." China will continue helping Pakistan boost its development under the CPEC however hard others try to drive a wedge between them.

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