China, Pak­istan sign 15 agree­ments

Global Times US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Leng Shumei and Zhang Hui

China and Pak­istan is­sued a joint state­ment on Sun­day strength­en­ing their all-weather strate­gic co­op­er­a­tive part­ner­ship and ex­pand­ing co­opera- tion on the China-Pak­istan Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor (CPEC).

The joint state­ment was is­sued dur­ing Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Im­ran Khan’s first visit to China, dur­ing which Chi­nese ex­perts said Khan is seek­ing help to al­le­vi­ate Paki- stan’s fis­cal cri­sis.

China and Pak­istan signed 15 bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion agree­ments and mem­o­ran­dums of un­der­stand­ing dur­ing Khan’s visit. The two sides agreed to

en­hance co­op­er­a­tion in var­i­ous fields in­clud­ing tech­nol­ogy, trade, poverty al­le­vi­a­tion, na­tional de­fense, se­cu­rity and anti-ter­ror­ism as well as in­ter­na­tional and re­gional is­sues, the joint state­ment said.

They re­it­er­ated de­vo­tion to the con­struc­tion of CPEC in the joint state­ment, agree­ing to hold the eighth meet­ing of the CPEC Joint Co­op­er­a­tion Com­mit­tee by the end of this year, the Xin­hua News Agency re­ported on Sun­day.

The two will speed up the con­struc­tion of Gwadar port, which is a vi­tal link in re­gional con­nec­tions and a back­bone to the CPEC, the joint state­ment said.

Wang De­hua, head of the In­sti­tute for South and Cen­tral Asian Stud­ies at the Shang­hai In­sti­tutes for In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, told the Global Times on Sun­day that “Gwadar will be an im­por­tant port for western China and ship­ments of oil from the Mid­dle East can get to China more eas­ily than go­ing through the Malacca Strait.”

China and Pak­istan are sat­is­fied with achieve­ments of the CPEC, es­pe­cially those in en­ergy fields. They have agreed on the fu­ture de­vel­op­ment of CPEC, and the im­por­tance of fin­ish­ing on­go­ing projects on time, fo­cus­ing on eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment, cre­at­ing jobs and im­prov­ing peo­ple’s liveli­hood, the joint state­ment said, stress­ing that China-Pak­istani re­la­tions are al­ways a pri­or­ity of Chi­nese diplo­macy.

“Pak­istan has spe­cial sta­tus on the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive con­cern­ing its po­si­tion as China’s neigh­bor and im­por­tance in South Asia,” Li Xiangyang, deputy di­rec­tor with the In­sti­tute of World Eco­nom­ics and Pol­i­tics at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, told the Global Times on Sun­day.

Li pointed out that good re­la­tions and co­op­er­a­tion with Pak­istan can serve as a model for China to co­op­er­ate with other coun­tries in the fu­ture.

Khan will at­tend the first China In­ter­na­tional Im­port Expo that opens on Mon­day in Shang­hai.

Not scape­goat

As fis­cal cri­sis swept Pak­istan early this year some sug­gested CPEC loans from China added to the break­down of the Pak­istani econ­omy.

How­ever, Chi­nese an­a­lysts dis­agree with the ac­cu­sa­tion. “In­ter­na­tional bor­row­ing is nor­mally risky and should not be taken as an ex­cuse to crit­i­cize the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive,” Li Xiangyang said, point­ing out that such crit­i­cism in­di­cates a mis­un­der­stand­ing of the ini­tia­tive.

“The first stage of the CPEC fo­cused on in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion, which is costly and takes time to re­al­ize progress. Vis­i­ble ben­e­fits will emerge fol­low­ing the con­struc­tion of in­dus­trial and eco­nomic parks un­der the CPEC,” Li said.

Op­po­si­tion voices mainly arise un­der pres­sure from US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s Amer­i­cafirst pol­icy and ag­gres­sive “Indo-Pa­cific” strat­egy, said Wang De­hua.

“China has noth­ing to do with Pak­istan’s eco­nomic cri­sis,” Qasim Jan, pres­i­dent of the Pak­istan Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times on the side­lines of the First Gen­eral Assem­bly of the Al­liance of In­ter­na­tional Science Or­ga­ni­za­tions in the Belt and Road Re­gion held on Sun­day. Jan said that the Belt and Road ini­tia­tive is not aimed at pol­i­tics, and has gen­er­ated a pos­i­tive ef­fect on world pol­i­tics, as it helped cre­ate com­mu­ni­ca­tions among peo­ple around the world.

The CPEC also faces crit­i­cism from In­dia as it passes through part of dis­puted Kash­mir, the Press Trust of In­dia PTI news agency said in a re­port on Fri­day.

Wang and Li said In­dia’s ter­ri­to­rial dis­putes with Pak­istan should not hin­der their eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion with China.

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