Inviting third parties to CPEC attests to transparency and openness: Pakistani Ambassador
Published: Sep 20, 2022 01:08 AM
A view of Pakistan's Gwadar Port.Photo: VCG

A view of Pakistan's Gwadar Port. Photo: VCG

Editor's Note:
As the world grapples with unilateralism-induced crises that have threatened global peace, China continues to be a shining example on the international stage, injecting stable, developmental and cooperative momentum. Over the last decade, China, under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), has achieved great success in record time, hitherto unseen in world history, including lifting nearly 100 million people out of absolute poverty, the unreserved promotion of multilateralism, and the adoption of a win-win development strategy among countries. In this series, the Global Times will interview diplomats from various countries to get their views on China's development and what it means for the world as a whole.  

Global Times reporter Xie Wenting (GT) talked with Pakistani Ambassador to China Moin ul Haque (Haque) in an exclusive interview on "iron brothers" relations, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and his take on China's development. 

Pakistani Ambassador to China Moin ul Haque. Photo: Courtesy of the Embassy of Pakistan in Beijing

Pakistani Ambassador to China Moin ul Haque. Photo: Courtesy of the Embassy of Pakistan in Beijing

GT: Based on your observations and visits to many places in China, how do you evaluate China's development over the last decade? What has impressed you most about the course of China's development? 

Haque: Like all Pakistanis, I have always felt a special fondness for China due to our traditional fraternal ties. 

After assuming responsibilities as the Ambassador of Pakistan, I got a chance to keenly observe the various aspects of Chinese society. I travelled to many provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions of China and met with people from all walks of life. I was always deeply touched by the special attention and warm reception given by Chinese friends to me. 

China is an ancient civilization which has always played a historic role in shaping the course of human history. There are countless dimensions of Chinese culture, history, governance and development, which have won accolades from the entire world. 

Since its reform and opening-up, China has lifted nearly 800 million people out of poverty and emerged as the major driver of global growth. Industrial output and foreign investment has increased, creating more jobs and increasing average incomes. Education, health, sport and social security sectors have been transformed. 

The rapid progress and prosperity of the New China is not only a reflection of the clear vision and acumen of the Chinese leadership but also a tribute to the toil and labor of Chinese people. 

GT: You have visited Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region before. How do you evaluate the region's development under the Communist Party of China (CPC)? 

Haque: Xinjiang is the neighboring region of Pakistan with which we enjoy longstanding cultural and trading ties. Karakoram Highway links our people and serves as the main artery of the CPEC. 

I visited Xinjiang twice and went to Urumqi, Kashi and Aksu as well as various development projects and religious places. During the visits, we also held interactions with the local people. 

I found Xinjiang a dynamic region of China resonating with progress, prosperity and happiness. I was fascinated by the diversity of its landscape and people, its rich cultural and religious heritage including mosques, cuisines, unique architecture and the usage of the Uygur script in public places.

Xinjiang has long suffered from "three evils" of separatism, extremism, and terrorism which stifled the region's economic development. During the visits, we saw the efforts of the Chinese government to address these challenges while ensuring socio-economic development for the local people. We support the efforts of the Chinese government for the region's stability and hope that Xinjiang will continue making strides toward progress and prosperity. 

GT: India has raised objections to the possibility of China and Pakistan involving third countries in the CPEC. What's your response? Why is it important to include third parties in the CPEC?

Hsaque: Our two governments have consistently rejected malicious propaganda against the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the CPEC. It is sad that some sections only view the BRI from the narrow prism of geopolitics and glibly ignore its potential for socio-economic development and prosperity of the entire region. 

Pakistan and China have agreed to welcome and encourage international investment and introduction of advanced technologies and expertise in the CPEC from third parties who are ready to work with us for common development. 

Inviting third parties to join the CPEC is consistent with international best practices and also attest to its transparency and openness.

GT: What are the biggest challenges facing the construction of the CPEC at this moment? 

Haque: Pakistan and China remain committed to the fast-track development of the CPEC with special focus on industrial relocation, agricultural modernization, science and technology cooperation, job creation and the socio-economic well-being of our people. 

It is a matter of great satisfaction that despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in the last two years, all CPEC projects have continued unhindered. The 10th meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee held in September 2021 and subsequent meetings of specialized Joint Working Groups reviewed wide-ranging cooperation under the CPEC framework. A new Joint Working Group on Information Technology and Industry has also been established to support high-quality development of the CPEC as envisioned by the leadership of the two countries. 

Pakistan will continue to extend all possible assistance to the Chinese companies working on CPEC projects and will closely partner with China to remove all challenges for its steady development. 

GT: Amid increasing tensions between China and the US, is Pakistan facing increased pressure to maintain good relations with China?

Haque: It is the cardinal principle of the foreign policy of Pakistan to develop friendly ties with all countries and make concerted efforts for global peace and prosperity. Pakistan regards the US as an important country with whom we enjoy strong ties in diverse fields of cooperation; we want to broaden this relationship on the principles of equality and shared benefits.

China is Pakistan's All-weather Strategic Cooperative Partner and closest partner. Friendship with China enjoys unanimous public and institutional support in Pakistan and is a cornerstone of our foreign policy. Last year, our two countries celebrated the 70th anniversary of our bilateral ties with great fanfare. We cherished achievements made by our two countries in the last seven decades and expressed our resolve to further enrich this relationship in the most profound manner.

Over the last few years, the scope and breadth of our bilateral ties has widened and expanded to new areas of cooperation, including trade and investment, science and technology, agriculture cooperation, disaster management and people-to-people linkages. 

I am confident that with the strategic vision and guidance of the leadership of our two countries, we will take our relationship to new heights. 

GT: The world is experiencing increased uncertainty. Amid this environment, what do "iron brother" relations between China and Pakistan mean for the South Asia region?

Haque: The world is undergoing profound changes in the global milieu in the shape of the Covid-19 pandemic, threats posed by climate change and the re-grouping of security alliances. However, the Pakistan-China friendship has stood the test of time and is rightly regarded as an anchor of regional peace and stability. 

Due to China's rise and development, the focus of international politics and economics is shifting to the Asian continent. In view of its strategic location, proximity to international trade routes, immense natural resources and as home to one fourth of humanity, South Asia is pivotal for regional and global peace and development. 

South Asia has immense potential for growth but also faces challenges. It is prone to the depredations of climate change, environmental hazards and outbreak of pandemics. The unresolved territorial issues awaiting a just and enduring solution make the regional political landscape complicated too. 

We value China's constructive role for the development of South Asia and stand ready to work together to achieve shared objectives of progress and development. 

GT: In 2017, Pakistan became a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Now a dozen countries reportedly wish to apply to join the SCO. What's your comment? How do you view the "expansion" of the SCO?

Haque: In its first ever expansion, Pakistan and India joined the SCO as full members in 2017. Since last year, there has been an increasing desire among countries of the Eurasian region and beyond to either join it or upgrade their existing status within the organization. Iran is joining it this year as a full member, and Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia will become Dialogue Partners. 

The transformation of the world's largest regional organization in a short span of time is a testimony to the SCO's appeal, its robust agenda and its promise to promote regional peace and stability, socio-economic cooperation and the overall well-being of the people. With its rich experience in multilateral cooperation and its growing number of Member States, Observers and Dialogue Partners, the SCO is opening up new space and providing new opportunities for building a developmental space for open, mutually beneficial and equitable cooperation in the Eurasian region.

GT: Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Pakistan needs financial assistance to deal with "overwhelming" floods. Is Pakistan now negotiating with other countries and international organizations on this? Could you elaborate on the process?

Haque: The unprecedented floods in Pakistan have been caused by climate change and have unleashed untold misery and suffering for countless Pakistanis. To date, over 33 million have been affected with more than 1,300 dead and over 12,000 injured. Due to destruction of standing crops and livestock, Pakistan also faces the specter of food shortage in the coming months. 

In view of the enormity of the crisis, the government of Pakistan has announced a state of national emergency and appealed to the international community for help in reinforcing our flood relief and rehabilitation efforts. 

We are grateful to friendly countries and most importantly to the Chinese government and its people for expressing strong solidarity and extending timely and generous support to Pakistan. Pakistan and China are also deepening their engagement in the relevant fields of cooperation, which includes climate change.

It is pertinent to understand here that Pakistan's contribution to greenhouse gases causing climate change is minimal but it has become one of the most vulnerable countries to this debilitating phenomenon. As UN General Secretary Antonio Gutteres observed during his recent visit to Pakistan, the international community and particularly the developed world should come forward to help countries like Pakistan who are on the forefront of climate change-induced disasters. 

Pakistan therefore calls for enhanced international cooperation and solidarity in tackling the climate crisis and help for developing countries to build their capacity for managing and mitigating the impacts of climate change. 

Workers transport humanitarian supplies of Chinese aid for flood relief in the Pakistani city of Karachi on August 30, 2o22. Photo: Xinhua

Workers transport humanitarian supplies of Chinese aid for flood relief in the Pakistani city of Karachi on August 30, 2o22. Photo: Xinhua

GT: What's your expectation for the upcoming 20th National Congress of the CPC ?

Haque: The Communist Party of China, through its people-centric approach, has ensured the betterment of the Chinese people and has enabled China's peaceful rise as a major player on the world stage. 

The 20th National Congress of the CPC to be held in October is a significant event during which the Party leadership will discuss important domestic and international issues which will have far reaching implications for China's continued development and global peace and progress.  

We are confident that the National Congress of the CPC will bring China one step closer to achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and set the stage for China's future role in world affairs.