(6 March 2017, Marriott Hotel)
Hon. Mr. Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reforms,
Hon. Mr. Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Federal Minister for Ports & Shipping,
Hon. Mr. Asad Umer, Chairman of Standing Committee on Industries & Production of National Assembly,
Hon. Mrs. Sherry Rehman, Central Leader of Pakistan Peoples Party,
Hon. Mr. Khalid Iqbal Malik, President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry,
Respectful Aijaz ul Haq, CEO of the Express Media Group,
Respectful Professor Tang Mengsheng,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Aslam Alegum and a very good afternoon to you all!
It is my pleasure to attend this Seminar on China Pakistan Economic Corridor. First, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Minister Mir Hasil Bizenjo, Senator Mushahid Hussain and all the Pakistani friends for your efforts in promoting CPEC construction. It is owing to our joint efforts that CPEC made such remarkable progress. I would also like to express my appreciation to the Express Tribune and other friends from Media for their coverage and support for CPEC.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As a saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. The transformation of CPEC from a concept to concrete projects was not made in a day. Today, I would like to share with you my thoughts on CPEC from the following three aspects：how CPEC came into being, what benefits it will bring to both countries and the future prospect of CPEC.
The first is how CPEC came into being?
CPEC is not made out of thin air, but has a solid bilateral, political, economic and social basis. It follows the trends of economic globalization, regional cooperation, and emerges as the times require.
China and Pakistan have maintained long-term special friendly relations, and always enjoyed mutual respect, equal treatment and high level of mutual trust. China-Pakistan relations have become a model of state-to-state relations between countries.
China and Pakistan are close neighbors and partners. Early before the initiation of CPEC, both countries have maintained close pragmatic cooperation for a long time. The Karakorum Highway (KKH), Haier - Ruba Industrial Park, Chashma civil nuclear power plants, Gwadar Port and a number of other major cooperative projects have laid solid foundations for CPEC.
China Pakistan friendship is deeply rooted in the hearts of the two peoples. We both aspire to strengthen the connectivity between our two countries. We both aspire to take the advantages of the geographical position, demographic dividends and economic potential of their countries, and bring the regional pivotal role of Pakistan into full play, so as to achieve the goal of common development.
In 2013, seeing the trends of economic globalization and regional cooperation, President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative. It provides relevant countries with an important platform based on principles of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. On this platform, we will make the development pie bigger and then share it together. Through this platform, China shares the opportunities and dividends of its development with the countries along the Belt and Road. In this spirit, the leadership of China and Pakistan made a foresighted decision, and formally proposed the CPEC initiative in 2013. In April 2015, President Xi Jinping paid a historic state visit to Pakistan. During this visit, both sides agreed to establish a “1+4” cooperative layout, with CPEC as the center, Gwadar port, energy, infrastructure, industrial cooperation as the four key areas. The leaders of both sides also witnessed the signing of a large number of CPEC cooperative projects. This visit opened a new chapter in the construction of CPEC. Since then, CPEC construction has entered the fast track of development.
The second is, what will China and Pakistan benefit from CPEC.
I believe that CPEC is an epoch-making starting point for bilateral pragmatic cooperation. CPEC will provide a strong boost for Pakistan’s economic and social development, and bring tangible benefits to the peoples of our two countries.
Firstly, CPEC is a corridor of prosperity. The main purpose of CPEC is development. Presently, both sides have given priority of cooperation to energy and transportation infrastructure. It aims at meeting the urgent need of Pakistan and break the bottlenecks constraining Pakistan’s development. It has brought more vitality and dynamics to Pakistan’s economic development. According to relevant statistics, Pakistan’s economy has gained more rapid and continuous development and generated more indigenous growth drive in recent years. Major international financial institutions has shown optimism on Pakistan’s economic outlook. Pakistan has uplifted its international image. As an important platform for China Pakistan cooperation, CPEC has made contributions to the economic development of Pakistan. As a true friend of Pakistan, I am sincerely happy and proud of that.
Secondly, CPEC is a corridor leading to long-lasting peace. The peoples of both countries are peace-loving. It is our common aspiration to eradicate poverty and live a prosperous life through development. We both dream to live and work happily, enjoy better education for our children and pension condition for the elders. The realization of these dreams need both peace and development. CPEC construction requires a peaceful environment, and will promote peace in return at the same time. The peace and development brought by CPEC are the common expectation of the peoples of China and Pakistan. It will be supported and shared by our two countries and the whole region.
Thirdly, CPEC is a corridor of win-win cooperation. The positive impact of CPEC construction is emerging. CPEC is bringing inclusiveness and benefits to all sectors of society of Pakistan. More and more Chinese enterprises have invested and carried out projects cooperation in Pakistan. It has added strong dynamics to Pakistan’s economic development. It has attracted more foreign investment into Pakistan. Further more, Chinese companies have been fulfilling social responsibility and accomplishing a series projects to improve local people’s livelihood. They have brought both economic and social benefits to local people. In return, the Chinese companies have gained due benefits through their professional and hard work. Both China and Pakistan are the owners, beneficiaries and contributors of CPEC. In one word, both China and Pakistan are winners of CPEC.
The third question is the future prospect of CPEC.
CPEC has entered the stage of full implementation. Right now, 18 early harvest projects are under construction. These projects have created more than 13,000 jobs for the local people and will create more employment opportunities for Pakistan in future. In last December, the 6th JCC meeting was successfully held in Beijing. The Ministers of Federal Government and Chief Ministers of major provinces of Pakistan attended the meeting. The two sides reached consensus on the adjustment of actively promoted projects and medium-to-long term planning. The consensus will put fresh impetus to CPEC development. The layout of CPEC projects becomes more optimized. The construction of CPEC will cover both the short term and medium-to-long term. The CPEC projects become more inclusive and will benefit all the provinces and regions of Pakistan.
The years of 2017 and 2018 are the years for the comprehensive implementation and early harvest of CPEC projects. Some energy projects will be completed. They will further solve the problem of Pakistan’s energy shortage. New energy, infrastructure projects are being launched one after another. The construction of the pilot area of Gwadar Free Zone has been undergoing intensively. The construction of other economic zones will move forward. The CPEC medium-to-long term plan will be finalized within this year, which will set the direction and focus area for CPEC construction in the future.
As the demonstration and pilot project of the Belt and Road Initiative, CPEC conforms to the trend of regional cooperation. It has facilitated connection among countries along the Belt and Road, and reflected the spirits of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation during the course of its construction. The concepts of CPEC has corresponded to those of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Economic Cooperation Organization, Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia and ASEAN Regional Cooperation. The role of CPEC in Pakistan’s economic development has become increasingly obvious. It is injecting new impetus into regional connectivity and development. From a higher and broader perspective, CPEC will play an invaluable role in promoting China-Pakistan friendship, medium-to-long term development of both countries, as well as regional connectivity and cooperation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Recently, President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech in Geneva and he pointed out that great visions can be realized only through actions. The more you plow, the more you gain. The key of CPEC construction also lies in actions. We look forward to working together with people from all walks of life in Pakistan. Let’s roll up our sleeves and work hard for a brighter future of CPEC and bring more benefits to the peoples of China and Pakistan as well as the region.
Long live China-Pakistan friendship!