Another step in the right direction Connectivity is key to success
Wang Yiwei, professor of international relations at RenminUniversityofChina, said theChina-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a tangible megaproject that will “undertake the great mission of prompting the economic takeoff and even the rise of Pakistan”.
“For China, the corridor will help to bolster the development of connectivity in the region and achievecommondevelopment and prosperity for all countries,” he added.
President Xi Jinping’s visit to the South Asian country in April 2015 placed Gwadar Port and the economic corridor high on the agenda.
During his meeting with Pakistani PrimeMinister Nawaz Sharif, Xi said the two countries needed to forma “1+4” cooperation structure, placing the corridor at the center and making Gwadar Port one of four key areas of cooperation.
Last year, the two countries began upgrading the KarakoramHighway betweenHavelian and Thakot, and a highway linking Karachi and Lahore, Pakistan’s largest cities.
Work also began on 10 energy projects, including a coal-fired power plant in Sahiwal, Punjab province, with total installed capacity reaching 7.3 million kilowatts.
On Nov 13, the deep-water Gwadar Port received its first large shipment of Chinese goods, strengthening tradelinksbetweenwesternChinaandtheArabianSea.
“The corridor will help to integrate these regions into an economic zone offering great opportunities for local people as well as investors from all over the world,” Sharif said, during an address at a ceremony to welcome the first joint trade convoy.
During a visit toPakistan in April, Yu Zhengsheng, China’s top political adviser, told Sharif that construction related to the corridor “has made important progress and a slew of major projects have entered a phase of comprehensive implementation”.
Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, chief minister of Punjab province, said the Belt and Road Initiative— including the corridor— demonstrates that China is taking practical steps to establish a development model that will not just benefit China, but also build mutually beneficial partnerships aimed at distributing the fruits of prosperity. He said the corridor is underway and eight industrial zones have been planned, which will create investment and employment opportunities. Pakistan’s GDP will rise by 2 percent after the completion of energy sector projects, for which $34 billion — a major chunk of corridor investment— has been earmarked, he said. According to aFebruary report by international ratings agencyMoody’s, the corridor will boost economic activity in Pakistan, whose growth rate is expected to be 4.9 percent this year. According to Moody’s, the corridor will boost economic activity, raise industrial production and augment development work, the Times of Islamabad reported. Liu Ying, a research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University, said infrastructure construction for the corridor will develop Pakistan’s economy, and it will not only benefit China and Pakistan, but all countries along the route.
“The corridor will help cut the journey time for freight between Gwadar Port, West China and the Central Asian regions by 60 to 70 percent,” he said.
Renmin University’s Wang said the corridor will set a good example and prompt other countries to follow suit. One of the spillover effects will be that cooperation in the South Asia region will be strengthened in three areas: development, security and governance.
“Its influence on global governance to reinforce pragmatic cooperation between China and Pakistan will help Pakistan to break the vicious circle of longterm poverty, violence and terrorist attacks,” he said.
Chinese companies and their employees have played major roles in the boom in operations at the port and along the route of the corridor, and their efforts have been backed by examples of corporate social responsibility.
One example is the China-Pakistan Government Primary School in Faqeer Colony Gwadar, sponsored by theChinaFoundation forPeaceandDevelopment.
In September, the school, which will offer education to400local children, wasofficially transferred to Pakistani control.
“The school is spacious, safe and comfortable, and it offers ideal conditions for the students. It fully illustrates the great friendship and bonds betweenChinese and Pakistani people,” said Sun Weidong, China’s ambassadortoPakistan.
An emergency medical center at Gwadar Port funded by the Chinese Red Cross Foundation will be completed this month, andChinese doctors will help to provide greater access to medical resources, according to People’s Daily.
Xinhua contributed to this story.
Contact the writers at firstname.lastname@example.org
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has become a “flagship” of the China-led Belt and Road Initiative, according to Mushahid Hussain, a Pakistani senator and chairman of the parliamentary committee on the corridor.
He said the BeltandRoadInitiative— anumbrella term for the SilkRoadEconomicBeltandthe 21st Century Maritime Silk Road — will result in land and sea routes that will connect countries in Asia, theMiddle East, Africa and Europe.
“Infact the corridor is not justaboutPakistanand China, it is also about the region. It is about connectivity, it is about corridors, it is about cooperation,” he said, refering to its influence beyond the South Asia region.
Noting the “great” location of Gwadar Port, a meeting point of the Belt and Road routes, he said connectivity will be “key” to the initiative’s success.
“Today, the corridor is a factor of national unity in the progress and prosperity of the people of Pakistan and the provinces of Pakistan, particularly the less-developed regions, in the quest to build a better and more prosperous future,” he said.
He recalled the reply he gave to a journalist’s question during an address at Harvard University inMarch about the challenges facing the corridor.
“I said the corridor will succeed because it is a demand of our time, and it is what the people and the region want— abetter life.
“Also, the leaderships of both countries have the political vision and determination to take this forward together, with the support of Pakistan and the people of China,” he added.
He quoted a famous maxim by Chairman Mao Zedong:“Nothing is hard in this world ifyoudare to scale the heights.”
A staunch supporter of bilateral friendship and cooperation, the senator is also chairman of the Pakistan-China Institute, a think tank that worked with the China International Publishing Group to translate President Xi Jinping’s book, XiJinping: TheGovernanceofChina, intoUrdu.
Hussain has good relationships with the leaders of both countries; his contact with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stretches back to the 1980s and he has met withXi several times.
“Both leaders have a common vision of development, of connectivity and promoting cooperation in theirowncountriesandthe region as a whole,” he said, adding that Pakistan and China “have a model relationship”.
“Andthis bond, this tie and this rapport has withstood rigorous changes in both countries in the last 50-plus years,” he said.