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BEIJING: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will take the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) forward with new vigour and vitality, ensuring multifaceted development of the flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said on Sunday.

“On the first day in office as prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif met the Chinese acting ambassador and told her that Pakistan considers China as its closest friend and strongest partner and we will take the CPEC forward with new vigour, with new vitality and in a rejuvenated manner,” he said while discussing future of Pakistan-China relations and cross-border collaboration during a show of the China Global Television Network, The Hub with Wang Guan.

Senator Sayed said that China had a longstanding relationship with PM Shehbaz Sharif. When the Belt and Road Initiative of President Xi Jinping was launched, the CPEC was its centre piece, which was taken forward by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shehbaz, who was then the chief minister of Punjab.

The senator was of the opinion that under the new government, there would be a broad-based improvement in Pakistan-China relations in all domains.

“China is number one in terms of foreign policy priorities, which the prime minister made clear when he listed the list of countries ... and his formulation has been very warmly welcomed in China. So, we have no doubt (about it),” he said.

Senator Sayed said that China was the one country on which there was across-the-board national consensus in Pakistan and the entire leadership agreed that China was the number one friend of Pakistan.

“So, friendship with China is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy, and I see this relationship being further developed and taken to new heights of development,” he said.

In response to a question about continued momentum in CPEC projects, he said the first phase of the mega-project was completed during the tenure of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. “The second phase is bigger. And you will see perhaps acceleration in the field of agriculture, in the field of Information Technology, in the field of tourism, and also infrastructure, especially the railway project,” Mr Sayed said.

He said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has already announced that his government would expand CPEC. So, there would be multifaceted development under CPEC.

Senator Sayed said the CPEC framework has also served to unite the federation of Pakistan through infrastructure and energy projects, and it had resolved a lot of problems.

“So, we feel that CPEC (will ensure) a better tomorrow for the people of Pakistan.”

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