China Daily Global Edition (USA)

Backbone of the nation bears load

Party has never eased up in quest to lift up the people, Pakistani scholar says

- By YANG HAN in Hong Kong kelly@chinadaily­apac.com

China’s dramatic progress in lifting up its people over the decades attests to the Communist Party of China’s role as the backbone of the country in driving economic developmen­t, according to an internatio­nal relations expert in Pakistan.

Talat Shabbir, director of the China-Pakistan Study Centre at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, points to achievemen­ts such as poverty alleviatio­n as underscori­ng the Party’s credential­s.

“Under (the leadership of the) CPC, China is by far a better-governed country, and a more peaceful and prosperous country,” Shabbir says.

Noting that the CPC has been pursuing a policy of strengthen­ing the developmen­t of China by transformi­ng and reforming it, Shabbir says the CPC is playing “a very important role” in China’s achievemen­ts. “China is a huge country and the CPC is the backbone of China,” he says.

“From standing up, growing rich to becoming strong, China has realized great leaps one after another under the leadership of the CPC (and) has become the world’s second-largest economy.”

He also points to the transforma­tion of China’s major cities, which have achieved world-class levels in science and technology.

However, he notes the Communist Party has been the subject of false accusation­s.

“The CPC leadership has withstood groundless accusation­s and attacks on China, especially the constant smear campaign against the CPC,” Shabbir says.

But it has pressed ahead with its agenda, and the most remarkable achievemen­t that China has made under the Party’s leadership is poverty alleviatio­n, he says.

Since China began to open up and reform its economy in 1978, more than 850 million people have been lifted out of poverty, according to the World Bank.

From 2012 to 2019, the number of poverty-stricken people in China dropped from nearly 99 million to 5.5 million, and the proportion of the population in poverty fell from 10.2 percent to 0.6 percent over that time.

Shabbir says the unpreceden­ted achievemen­t means that millions of China’s hitherto intractabl­y poor — especially those living in remote mountain villages — have been lifted out of poverty since 2012.

On Dec 3, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said China has achieved its goal of poverty reduction as planned, and had lifted nearly 100 million people out of poverty in the past eight years. In February, he announced China’s “complete victory” in its fight against absolute poverty.

In 2019, the poverty line was set at 3,218 yuan ($490) per person a year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. The figure is subject to adjustment as the country’s price levels change. A decade ago the level was set at 2,300 yuan.

“Now, in 2021, even though the pandemic has impacted all walks of life severely, the CPC is still determined that its poverty-alleviatio­n goal will not be thwarted,” Shabbir says.

Internatio­nal cooperatio­n

With COVID-19 afflicting countries all over the world, Shabbir says the pandemic has revealed the strengths of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and the way it functions.

“Internatio­nal cooperatio­n in the health sector has been a firm component of China’s BRI,” Shabbir says.

He recalls that back in January 2017, China and the World Health Organizati­on signed a memorandum of understand­ing to jointly implement an initiative that focuses on health and jointly establish the “Health Silk Road”. Later in August, a communique was adopted by countries involved in the BRI to synergize efforts in medical emergency response and epidemic prevention.

Since the emergence of the pandemic, the Chinese leadership has been promoting the health aspect of the Belt and Road as it is essential for building a global community of a shared destiny, Shabbir says.

He says that China, in addition to sending medical resources and medical experts, is also providing timely assistance to Pakistan to help protect its people with vaccinatio­ns.

Pakistan launched its COVID-19 vaccinatio­n drive on Feb 2 with donations of vaccines from China. At the time, the country had confirmed around 500,000 infections, with nearly 12,000 deaths, according to data from the World Health Organizati­on.

“China’s commitment to work with the rest of the world toward a community of shared future reaffirms its long-standing foreign policy for peace,” Shabbir says.

In terms of its intellectu­al origins, the scholar says: “The commitment draws inspiratio­n from ancient Chinese philosophy relationsh­ips between diversity and unity, order and chaos, and humanity and nature.

“It also builds on Marxist theses on social community and contempora­ry Western theories of internatio­nal relations.”

Shabbir cites China establishm­ent, during the Cold War, of the famous Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistenc­e.

“(China) pledged that as a new independen­t third-world country, it would never seek hegemony in any form, but a more just internatio­nal economic and political order,” Shabbir says.

The five principles comprise mutual respect for sovereignt­y and territoria­l integrity, mutual nonaggress­ion, noninterfe­rence in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistenc­e. It was first set forth by China’s then-premier Zhou Enlai in 1953 and remains a diplomatic guide for the country.

Shabbir, having hosted delegation­s from the CPC at the ChinaPakis­tan Study Centre and visited China several times for meetings, Shabbir says the CPC is “a wonderful organizati­on”.

One important thing he took note of is that in the CPC, people down the ladder are also welltraine­d and that a systematic improvemen­t mechanism allows them to gradually move up the ranks.

“It’s a very great idea that you put people in various tiers and train them about politics, governance, and various issues that you can find as a political entity,” the scholar says.

Systematic manner

Shabbir says he has found that the CPC members he has met always work in a systematic manner to pursue the goals put in place by the leadership and that their dedication to work is admirable.

The China-Pakistan Study Centre was inaugurate­d at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad in June 2017. As the director of the think tank, Shabbir oversees research and advocacy in all facets of bilateral relations.

In January 2019, the center launched a quarterly magazine called PIVOT; Shabbir serves as the chief editor. Its aim is to provide regular updates and analysis of the relationsh­ip between China and Pakistan as well as promote mutual understand­ing at the people’s level.

In a special edition of the magazine published in October 2019 — when the People’s Republic of China celebrated the 70th anniversar­y of its founding — Shabbir wrote: “Though bilateral ties between China and Pakistan were establishe­d in 1951 … historical linkages between the two nations date back to thousands of years when an adoring homage was paid to areas that now form part of Pakistan.”

Shabbir says he focuses on Pakistan-China relations because he thinks that the connection­s between the neighbors are vital for the prosperity of their peoples.

“China has been always helpful to Pakistan in political, strategic and economic domains,” he says. “Particular­ly, the defense cooperatio­n with China has added considerab­ly to Pakistan’s defense capabiliti­es.”

“As President Xi Jinping pointed out, China-Pakistan relations should be a model of a good, neighborly friendship, a pillar of regional peace and stability, and a benchmark for internatio­nal cooperatio­n under the BRI.”

The scholar believes that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, a flagship project under the BRI to improve regional connectivi­ty, will always play a leading role in moving BRI cooperatio­n toward high-quality developmen­t.

In doing so, it will bring more benefits to the peoples of both countries and contribute to regional prosperity.

Noting that half of the early-harvest projects have been completed and the remaining projects are under smooth constructi­on, Shabbir says the CPEC has entered a new stage of expansion.

CPEC, a corridor linking the Gwadar port in southweste­rn Pakistan with Kashgar in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, highlights energy, transport and industrial cooperatio­n. The corridor is a major pilot project under the BRI.

In December, Asim Saleem Bajwa, chairman of the CPEC Authority, says the CPEC is expanding into its second phase as scheduled, despite the serious setback posed by the COVID-19 pandemic globally, Bajwa was quoted as saying by the Xinhua News Agency.

“We look at this phase as a hope as it will improve people’s livelihood. It helps address the social-economic problems that we face in Pakistan,” says Shabbir, who expects the second phase of the economic corridor to generate more job opportunit­ies, boost economic activities and support growth in industries.

Besides the economic benefits, he says the CPEC will also help bring peace and stability in the region.

Saying that he foresees “a very bright future” for China under the CPC’s leadership, Shabbir says he believes the relationsh­ip between China and Pakistan will also remain cordial.

This year marks the 70th anniversar­y of the establishm­ent of diplomatic ties between China and Pakistan. Shabbir says he expects Pakistan-China relations to further strengthen, especially with economic initiative­s like CPEC that will bring them to a new height.

“It is a very important time that China and Pakistan should be together to not only help each other economical­ly, but also to support each other politicall­y,” Shabbir says.

 ?? LIU TIAN / XINHUA ?? Many people from overseas have made a contributi­on to China’s developmen­t over the years. As China celebrates the 100th anniversar­y of the founding of the Communist Party of China, China Daily looks at the lives and contributi­ons of these friends from afar, who’ve not only witnessed, but also participat­ed in, the country’s transforma­tion over the years.
China has shown its support for Pakistan in the coronaviru­s pandemic with deliveries of vaccines, such as this shipment that arrived at the Noor Khan Air Base near Islamabad on Feb 1.
LIU TIAN / XINHUA Many people from overseas have made a contributi­on to China’s developmen­t over the years. As China celebrates the 100th anniversar­y of the founding of the Communist Party of China, China Daily looks at the lives and contributi­ons of these friends from afar, who’ve not only witnessed, but also participat­ed in, the country’s transforma­tion over the years. China has shown its support for Pakistan in the coronaviru­s pandemic with deliveries of vaccines, such as this shipment that arrived at the Noor Khan Air Base near Islamabad on Feb 1.
 ?? XINHUA ?? A highway connecting China and Pakistan cuts its way through the countrysid­e, in this image taken on July 28 of the constructi­on project. It’s known as the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway.
XINHUA A highway connecting China and Pakistan cuts its way through the countrysid­e, in this image taken on July 28 of the constructi­on project. It’s known as the China-Pakistan Friendship Highway.
 ?? JIANG WENYAO / XINHUA ?? A family place stickers for the Spring Festival at their new home in the city of Qujing in Yunnan province on Feb 11. They are among the many who have escaped poverty.
JIANG WENYAO / XINHUA A family place stickers for the Spring Festival at their new home in the city of Qujing in Yunnan province on Feb 11. They are among the many who have escaped poverty.
 ?? PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY ?? Talat Shabbir (first row, third from right) attends the Ambassador­s Platform, an event held at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad last year.
PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY Talat Shabbir (first row, third from right) attends the Ambassador­s Platform, an event held at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad last year.
 ?? LI HAO / XINHUA ?? A Chinese technician works with a Pakistani colleague in checks at a coal-fired power plant in Sahiwal on Jan 25.
LI HAO / XINHUA A Chinese technician works with a Pakistani colleague in checks at a coal-fired power plant in Sahiwal on Jan 25.

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