CPEC won’t be affected by coronavirus

By Zhou Qing Source:Global Times Published: 2020/2/5 21:30:56

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak in China and cases found overseas have triggered concerns over whether the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project will be affected or stalled. The two countries should now work hand-in-hand to safeguard the smooth implementation of the CPEC. 

The CPEC project in the southern Punjab province of Pakistan was halted last week due to fears of a potential spread of the coronavirus, according to a report from Pakistani media The Nation. 

Indeed, the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak has been a huge challenge for China. Chinese health authorities had reported 24,324 confirmed cases of the coronavirus infection nationwide by the end of Tuesday, with the death toll rising to 490. 

However, China will never leave the CPEC project unfinished, nor will it let the CPEC collapse despite domestic difficulties. The country and its people are combating the deadly pneumonia through all means possible. China has confidence that it can quell the virus and restore normal order. 

As a responsible country, China has taken the most vigorous measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus overseas. Worries that the virus could spread via the CPEC can be allayed through necessary precautionary measures. 

We believe Pakistan has faith in China. Late last week, media reported the CPEC remains functional despite the coronavirus. "As far as the CPEC is concerned, those who are working on the project in Pakistan and those who are arriving from China will be properly screened," according to Arab News citing Pakistani senator Kauda Babar. Moreover, transportation between the two countries has not been interrupted. 

The CPEC has been a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and benefits local people through the improvement of public facilities. Building facilities to ensure adequate electricity supply and construction of local motorways and ports as part of the CPEC projects have laid the foundation for future economic development in Pakistan. 

New measures to lower bilateral tariff levels under the upgraded Free Trade Agreement between China and Pakistan took effect on January 1 and have provided buttress for manufacturing and services industries in Pakistan. Pakistan's economy should be soon ready for a take-off.

For that reason, the CPEC should not be suspended. China is willing to carry through the project, but it requires more support from Pakistan. We hope Pakistani authorities can facilitate the progress of CPEC projects, encouraging local people to adopt a rational attitude toward the coronavirus epidemic.  

Under the current situation, China and Pakistan should stick together, preventing interference from other countries amplifying the threat of the epidemic in China and working to ensure CPEC projects progress smoothly to benefit local people as soon as possible.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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