Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong on Thursday said the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects initiated in 2015 have now entered into the early harvest stage.
The ‘early harvest’ term has been coined for the projects that are likely to be completed in the next few years as opposed to longer-term ones.
“There is no country in the world other than China that wants to see a stronger, stable and developed Pakistan,” he said this while speaking at a seminar organised by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) on the ‘Pakistan-China Relation: CPEC and Beyond CPEC’.
The session was chaired by Leader of House in Senate, Senator Raja Muhammad Zafar-ul-Haq.
The ambassador termed CPEC a win-win scenario for both China and Pakistan. He wrapped up the discussion on the Pak-China cooperation in three words: “All-weather, all-round and iron brothers.”
The ambassador said the historic visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 paved the way for a new era of bilateral relationship which to date had seen comprehensive promotion of exchanges in the areas of trade, investment, culture, education, science and technology between the two countries.
He said the projects with total worth of $18.5 billion investment, pertaining to energy had been at the forefront with six projects in progress and five had already been built.
He said the speed of the completion of Sahiwal Coal Power Project had been a record in Pakistan and it was expected that the completion of all eleven energy projects will add about 11,000 megawatts of electricity to the national grid.
In addition the diplomat termed the construction of road network another vital area of investment, maintaining up-gradation of the Karakoram Highway and the highway from Peshawar to Karachi will unlock transportation arteries in Pakistan that will effectively stimulate economic vitality.
The ambassador said social effects were another emerging area in which about 60,000 Pakistani workers had already been employed by Chinese enterprises under and outside the umbrella of CPEC.
“These Chinese companies are bringing investment as well as tax revenue to Pakistan, besides playing an important role of transforming locals into skilled and productive workforce in numerous areas.”
He viewed that such contributions by the Chinese organisations will eventually result in the development and transformation of a complete industry chain in Pakistan.
He also commented over the on-going situation of academic exchanges between the two countries, stating that around 18,000 Pakistan students were studying in China at present whereas the number of Pakistani students enjoying scholarships by the Chinese government accumulated to nearly 10 per cent of the total offerings.
He also talked about Pakistan-China trade deficit and said the gap was already improving while revealing that a special delegation of investors was on a visit to Pakistan at present with the aim of taking Pakistani products into the Chinese markets.
Senator, Raja Zafar-ul-Haq in his speech stated that Pakistan was keen to share with Chinese friends the advantages accruing from the country’s strategic position at the crossroads of Central Asia, South Asia, and West Asia.
Earlier, IPS Executive President, Khalid Rahman, in his opening remarks, highlighted that it was important to note that adversaries of China and Pakistan – both from within and outside were targeting the spirit of mutual trust and understanding between the two nations.