An­other step in the right di­rec­tion Con­nec­tiv­ity is key to success

China Daily (Canada) - - & ROAD INITIATIVE - By ZHANG YUNBI

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 zhangyunbi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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.

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