ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and China have vowed to take China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) initiative to the next level from vision to reality as in the second phase of industrial cooperation under this mega project will bring high-quality economic development in the region.

This was a crux of a two-day international conference titled, “Decade of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Belt & Road Initiative-From Vision To Reality”, jointly organised by the Ministry of Planning and in collaboration with the Embassy of the Republic of China here on Monday.

The conference is aimed at exploring opportunities for enhanced cooperation, sustainable development and inclusive growth in the subsequent phase of CPEC.

Chinese Chargé d’Affairs to Pakistan Pang Chunxue, speaking on the occasion, said the CPEC has witnessed continued expansion which is a hallmark of cooperation between Pakistan and China.

She said under CPEC various projects including Gwadar Port have achieved full operational capacity. She said the new Gwadar International Airport, desalination plant and Pakistan-China friendship hospital will be completed one after another this year.

Gwadar is making steady progress towards the goal of a logistics hub and industrial base. She further mentioned that 14 power projects under the CPEC have been put into commercial operation with a total installed capacity of 8,000 megawatts, which significantly resulted in addressing the issue of power shortages in Pakistan.

Chunxue said infrastructure cooperation under the CPEC has also achieved great accomplishments and the CPEC framework agreement has been signed. “We have set up a new joint working group on mining, and the construction of the first phase of Rashakai Special Economic Zone has also been completed.”

Chunxue appreciated the government particularly, the Planning Ministry for the continuous support in the implementation of the CPEC projects, saying remarkable achievements have been made through the guidance of the leaders of both China and Pakistan.

She recalled the historic visit of President Xi Jinping to Pakistan in 2015, which accelerated the large-scale construction of CPEC.

The key objective of the conference is to bring together policymakers, scholars, practitioners, and other stakeholders to exchange ideas and insights related to the economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical impacts of the CPEC and the BRI.

Planning Ministry Secretary Syed Zafar Ali Shah said that the conference will provide a platform to address concerns, evaluate risks, and explore avenues for mitigating any adverse impacts, ensuring that the benefits are equitably distributed among all stakeholders.

While highlighting the flagship project of China’s visionary BRI, the secretary said that it has emerged as a corridor of opportunity, traversing vast terrains to connect the warm waters of the Arabian Sea with the rich landscapes of China’s western regions. “Over the past 10 years, the CPEC has made significant progress, with the completion of several infrastructure projects such as highways, ports, and power plants,” he remarked.

These projects have improved connectivity between Pakistan and China, reduced transportation costs, and increased the efficiency of trade, he remarked, while reiterating the government’s commitment to complete the CPEC projects.

Furthermore, he said that CPEC has sparked immense interest and debate globally, evoking curiosity about its potential to transform economies, improve infrastructure, enhance trade, and open doors to new horizons.

Chief Economist of Pakistan Dr Nadeem Javaid, while deliberating on the objectives of the conference, said that the conference revolves around the socioeconomic impact of CPEC and opportunities for industry relocation, and the prospect of regional connectivity and technology transfer, enhance cooperation for security, geopolitical implications to overcome challenges and maximising synergies in CPEC and BRI Initiatives, and people to people connectivity.

Dr Javaid said that in response to the call for papers, the CPEC Secretariat has received 435 extended abstracts from more than 85 national and international institutes including universities, government departments, practitioners, think tanks, and entrepreneurs. Following a rigorous evaluation, 310 abstracts were short-listed to be further scrutinised by the scientific committee and the committee accepted 110 abstracts for full paper submissions.

It is noted that all the accepted and presented papers will be published in the conference abstract book while selected papers will be published in the special issue of the Pakistan Development Review (PDR) Journal after blind peer review and approval of the scientist committee.

During the first day, four technical sessions were held which include the socioeconomic impacts of CPEC, prospects of regional connectivity through Gwadar port, opportunities for industrial relocation and export and green technologies and development.

Speaking at the occasion, Higher Education Commission (HEC) Chairman Dr Mukhtar Ahmed announced several significant initiatives aimed at fostering collaboration between Pakistan and China in the field of higher education and research. These initiatives include future Chinese scholarships and cooperation with the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Mukhtar emphasized that the CPEC has evolved from a visionary concept to a reality of immense importance for both countries.

He expressed his gratitude to the Government of the Republic of China for their unwavering support, leading to the agreement to establish a joint research centre at a renowned university in Pakistan. The research centre, spanning 50 acres of land, is set to open new avenues for ground-breaking advancements in various scientific disciplines.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Mateen Jul 27, 2023 07:14am
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