Chairman of institute says there could be no second opinion that Pakistan, China take same stand on international, regional issues

LAHORE: Consul General of China in Lahore Zhao Shiren said on Sunday the recently concluded 3rd Belt and Road Forum had injected a fresh impetus into high-quality cooperation between China and Pakistan.

Speaking at a seminar organised by the Institute of International Relations and Media Research on the “3rd BRF: Benefits to Pakistan and Global Shared Community,” he said both sides agreed to fast track development of the Gwadar Port and ML-1 upgradation.

In addition, 20 agreements and MoUs were signed, covering cooperation on the BRI, infrastructure, mining, industry, green and low-carbon development, health, space cooperation, digital, development cooperation and agricultural export to China.

During the BRF, 458 outcomes have been reached, including the Beijing Initiative for Deepening Cooperation on Connectivity, Belt and Road Green Development, International Digital Economy Cooperation, Green Investment and Finance Partnership, and High-Level Principles on Corruption-free Belt and Road Building. They also include specific targets such as providing 100,000 training opportunities on green development for partner countries by 2030, and increasing the number of joint laboratories to 100, he added.

Commercial agreements worth $97.2 billion have also been concluded at the BRF CEO conference, which will help generate jobs and growth in the BRI countries. The forum also decided to establish a BRF secretariat to facilitate institution-building and project implementation, he said.

Punjab Minister S M Tanveer invited Chinese companies to invest in new industries and technologies in the province. “Potential areas of mutual cooperation include development of agriculture parks and introduction of new methods and techniques for promoting high-yielding crops, long staple cotton with modern farming techniques developed by Chinese experts, value added industry for food processing, value chain for production and export of meat to Chinese markets, providing demand-driven technical education & vocational training for new Chinese industries coming to Punjab, and cooperation in installing air purification towers for improving air quality in Punjab,” he added.

Muhammad Mehdi, chairman of the institute which organised the seminar, said there could be no second opinion that Pakistan and China take the same stand on international and regional issues. “Big initiatives like CPEC invoke different opinions and some even attempt to find a military purpose behind it. The answer to any such thinking has been very realistically given by President Xi in his speech at the recent BRI Forum when he said ‘we have learned that the Silk Road spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit is the most important source of strength for Belt and Road cooperation. I once said that the pioneers of the ancient silk routes won their place in history not as conquerors with warships, guns, horses or swords. Rather, they are remembered as friendly emissaries leading camel caravans and sailing ships loaded with goods’.”

After the recent summit, the BRI has entered a new phase as the industrialisation process will begin in the developing countries. For Pakistan, the possible change would be of extraordinary importance as it has the potential to revive its economy through it and what it needs is a kickstart, which the 3rd BRF promises, he added.

Col (retd) Sayed Ahmad Nadeem Qadri said that the Belt and Road Initiative was currently the largest and unique project in the world under which more than 150 countries were reaping benefits. There are 10 corridors of BRI in which CPEC has played a significant role in the development of Pakistan under which at least 250,000 people had got employment since 2015. As a flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the CPEC has reshaped Pakistan’s economic landscape and strengthened bilateral ties between China and Pakistan. The development of Gwadar Port City, energy projects, transportation infrastructure, and industrial cooperation are the fruits of the CPEC. It has enhanced people-to-people exchanges, fostered cultural understanding and diplomatic cooperation between the two nations.

Referring to the recent visit of Prime Minister Kakar to China, Prof Zhourong, senior fellow for financial studies of Chongyang Institute of Renmin University of China, said via video link that CPEC is an important project related to BRI. The CPEC has made a profound impact on Pakistan’s economy for the past ten years. The socio-economics of Pakistan is progressing a lot and with this project, mutual relations between Pakistan and China are getting more stable and positive changes are also taking place in the world economy, he added.

Former Pakistan ambassador Nazir Hussain said it is unfortunate that the CPEC did not progress at the scale and speed as had been planned because the associated projects of economic activities (special economic zones) lagged behind the schedule. The historic CPEC fell victim to global propaganda and disinformation campaigns. Western think-tanks churned out fake statistics of costs, terms of agreements, and project viability and they were joined by local influencers of dubious integrity in spreading doubts with malicious intentions.

It was a planned effort to stall the CPEC and stop China and Pakistan from opening this unique route that would connect South Asian and Chinese civilizations. There is a lesson for both Pakistan and China to build the capacity to respond effectively to fake stories, disinformation, and politically motivated propaganda, he added.

Dr. Amjad Magsi from Punjab University said both countries believe in the idea of a “shared destiny” and it is that belief which is root for the success of the other.

Prof. Dr. Zhang Jiamei, Peking University, Beijing, while speaking through video link, said that in the recent forum of BRI, a message has been given to the whole world that everyone will work together with BRI to achieve common interests that lead to a shared future.

Dr. Shabbir Ahmad Khan of Department of Political Science, Punjab University, emphasized that China is emerging as a peaceful political power and an economic giant globally. China is moving ahead in leadership than the West or the rest of the world which is facing an acute crisis of leadership. He suggested that there should be a China Monetary Fund (CMF) like the IMF to rescue friendly nations from financial stress.

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