CPEC to march forward at full speed despite pandemic: Pakistani FM

By Wang Bozun Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/19 21:58:41

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi Photo: Li Hao/GT

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will go ahead despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told the Global Times in an exclusive interview in Beijing, saying the two countries are committed to the scheduled construction plan.

Qureshi's comments came as Pakistani President Arif Alvi this week visited China to show solidarity between the two "iron brothers" amid fears over the spread of the novel coronavirus worldwide.

"I don't think it'll have an impact on the CPEC in the long run. But in the short run, yes, there could be a slight slowdown. As soon as we are over the hump of dealing with the coronavirus, I think we'll be back on track," Qureshi told the Global Times. 

The CEPC, a flagship project under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, is a phased mega-project that consists of many projects in different fields including energy and transportation.

Since the projects were launched, speculations from some Western countries have followed, the latest being that existing projects could be curtailed due to the impact of the virus. However, Qureshi dismissed those claims, saying all projects are being carried out in phases.

In the first phase, projects mainly focus on industrialization preparation work, for example developing infrastructure to meet energy requirements in Pakistan, according to the foreign minister.

Projects under the second phase have already begun, which mainly focuses on industrialization, aiming to enhance industrial production capacity, create jobs, stabilize the economy and address poverty alleviation in Pakistan, Qureshi said.

"I don't think there will be any curtailment. What could happen is that we could review the progress and see the capacity limitations that we have and adjust the base of our work accordingly," he noted. 

Qureshi said that cooperation in other fields was also on the agenda during the visit, including "setting up a working group on agriculture to see how China can help Pakistan improve its agricultural productivity, and working together in the fields of science and technology."

Overall, Qureshi said he is confident the CPEC projects between China and Pakistan - two all-weather strategic partners - will march forward and eventually benefit the whole region.

"There's a temporary dip, but I think things will revive very quickly. The future of the CPEC is very bright. The future is very promising, not just for Pakistan and China. In fact, the entire region stands to benefit from this project," he said.

This article is based on an exclusive Global Times interview with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday in Beijing.

Posted in: ECONOMY

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