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Remarks by Chinese Charge D'affaires Zhao Lijian at the Opening Session of the International Conference on "CPEC: Corridor of Prosperity through Education and Business"

(10 May 2017, Islamabad)

Honorable Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs,

Honorable Major General Zia Uddin Najam, Rector of National University of Modern Languages,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Aslam alegum and good morning to you all.

It is my pleasure to attend this International Conference on “CPEC: Corridor of Prosperity through Education and Business”. I would like to extend my appreciation to the National University of Modern Languages for holding this meaningful conference. This conference reminds us again of the importance of education and business in the construction of China Pakistan Economic Corridor and China Pakistan pragmatic cooperation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to speak about the latest development of the CPEC and its impact on education and business.

As a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative, CPEC has entered the stage of full implementation. It is one of the earliest, fastest and most effective projects among all projects under the Belt and Road Initiative. Over the past three years, 19 early-harvest projects are under smooth construction with a total contract amount of 18.5 billion USD.

In last December, the 6th JCC meeting of CPEC 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 finalizing the long term plan, and adjusting the existing list of CPEC energy projects as soon as possible. The consensus will put fresh impetus into 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 will witness early harvest for CPEC projects. Some energy projects like Port Qasim Coal-fired plant, Sahiwal Coal-fired plant and so on will be completed. With the completion of these energy projects, it 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. Just a few days back, China and Pakistan inaugurated a emergency medical center and a fishery processing plant for local people in Gwadar. The construction of other economic zones is also moving forward. The CPEC long term plan will be finalized within this year, which will set the direction and focus area for CPEC construction in the future.

Ladies and gentlemen,

On May 14 and 15, Chinese President Xi Jinping will host the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. Leaders from 28 countries including Pakistan and UN Secretary-General will attend the Forum. There are also representatives from 110 countries and 61 international organizations. Guests from all over the world will gather together and discuss cooperation on the Belt and Road construction under the theme of win-win cooperation.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and senior ministers of Pakistan will attend the BRF in Beijing. H.E. Sartaj Aziz will be invited to speak in one of 6 parallel sessions of the high-level dialogue of the Forum, themed think-tank exchanges. There will be also one special Pakistani guest who will have the honor to speak in one of the sessions themed enhancing people-to-people bond. His name is Shair Mohammad.

Mr. Shair Mohammad is a 65-year old local man in Gwadar. It was him who donated his 752-square-meter land for building the Gwadar Faqeer Primary School, a newly built school completed by Chinese company last year with donation from Chinese Government. Mr. Shair Mohammad’s 10-member family is not wealthy. His relatives tried to persuade him to give up the plan given the soaring land prices, but he refused, saying that education is the top priority of Pakistan and what the Chinese side is doing is reliable. One of Mr. Shair Mohammad’s sons was sent to China to learn Chinese with Chinese scholarship. His son told us that when he finishes his study in China, he would go back to his hometown and teach the students in the Gwadar Faqeer Primary School.

This story tells us that the importance of education cannot be stated enough, especially for Pakistani youth. Education provides the youth with knowledge and wisdom. It paves the way for a good career. It helps build character. It lays the foundation for a stronger nation. And it means a better future for Pakistan.

I also would like to show you some figures. There are now 7 Chinese Universities teaching Urdu. China sponsored at least 5 China-related Research Center in the Universities and Think-tanks of Pakistan. China also established 4 Confucius Institutes in Pakistan, including the one in this university. Apart from these, Pakistan supported 5 Pakistan Research Centers in China. In addition, the Chinese Government and companies are funding a number of Pakistani students, teachers to study or to be trained in China. Last year a total of 3,500 Pakistani students went to study in China sponsored by Chinese government scholarships. This made Pakistan the country with the largest number of students learning in China with Chinese scholarships. There were more than 18,000 Pakistani students learning in various Universities of China. This made Pakistan No. 4 among other countries in terms of number of foreign students learning in China. The number of Pakistani students in China grew very fast last year. I think it was a result of the construction of CPEC.

Business sector of Pakistan is also benefiting from the construction of CPEC. CPEC is opening attractive avenues for investment emerging from economic cooperation between China and Pakistan. It is really heartening to see that the environment of investment in Pakistan is continuously improving, and Pakistan has emerged as one of the popular investment destinations. China is not only Pakistan’s largest trading partner, but also Pakistan’s second largest export destination. With extensive roads, railways, ports, and energy infrastructure being laid down, businessmen all around Pakistan will find more opportunities for business.

The CPEC will create more jobs for Pakistan in the future. According to incomplete statistics, CPEC has created at least 60,000 direct jobs for Pakistan people. With the deepening of the CPEC construction, it will bring not only investment and infrastructure, but also advanced technique and managing philosophy. These will require Pakistan young people to get better education, so that they could adapt to the requirement of the new jobs and be in better position to build the future of Pakistan.

With the smooth and fast development of CPEC, it is injecting new impetus into regional connectivity and development. In the long run, it will provide more opportunities for China Pakistan cooperation on education and business.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am convinced that the future of CPEC will be even brighter under the Belt and Road Initiative and will play an invaluable role in promoting China-Pakistan friendship, economic development of both countries, as well as regional connectivity and cooperation. We look forward to working together with Pakistani friends for a brighter future of CPEC and bringing more benefits to the peoples of China and Pakistan as well as the region.

I wish the Conference a full success! May China-Pakistan friendship last forever!

Thank you!

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