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‘CPEC is not a gift’: Professor Jia Yu at the CPEC 2018 Summit

Pakistan should not take CPEC for granted, writes Dr. Jia Yu. Both public and private sectors must take ownership of the opportunities.

 

The economic relations between the two countries have been phenomenal, especially since the turn of the century. Early economic cooperation was based on political and security interests, like Karakoram Highway, nuclear capability, arms trade etc. Also, it was focussed on energy and mining, but there is now a need for diversification. Pakistan has to take advantage of China’s rise on the global scene. There is a tendency towards having even better economic relations based on market forces and there is a lot of under-exploited potentials.

When it comes to win-win cooperation, of course, there is a lot at stake for both countries. Pakistan’s interests lie in promoting growth, private sector investment, employment, exports, technology and transfer of skills as well as in the relocation of Chinese firms. China’s interests lie in overseas production bases, new export markets, energy cooperation, and its need for production capacity relocation.

A successful execution of CPEC will ensure economic progress and stability for both the countries, particularly along the border region.

The two countries signed the FTA in 2006 which came into effect a year later. The FTAs play a major role in the general tendency of increasing trade. Surprisingly, the trade has been relatively low compared to the other neighbors (India, Vietnam, Philippines etc.). And there is a large and widening trade imbalance that needs to be worked on.

There has been a considerable increase in FDI since 2014 which is a positive sign for both China and Pakistan. The main FDI sectors by priority are: power, construction, financial services, and communication. There is, however, very little FDI in the light manufacturing sector.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a $900 billion investment, with finance channels targeting green development. It connects more than 60 countries, 60pc of the global population, 30pc of global GDP, and 35pc of global trade.

CPEC, a central link of BRI, cuts 10,000 miles of shipping by sea, and connects ports from Shanghai to Africa and Europe through Gwadar.

PAKISTAN AND CPEC

If things work out smoothly, Pakistan could use the FDI in its power and transport infrastructure and then in the manufacturing sector with the experience of leveraging SEZs to unlock this trio’s potential for rapid gains in job-rich industrialization. This can be done without unrealistic pre-requirements as the work to lay the foundations for industrialization has already begun.

The potentials are outlined below along with policy options needed to convert them into actions. At a regional level, Pakistan has been growing steadily in terms of GDP per capita since 2010, according to the World Bank. Investors are very keen to a growing economy. Consistent growth of purchasing power (GDP per capita) really matters for domestic consumption; therefore the growth rate must be maintained to catch up with competitors.

Pakistan is one of the world’s largest reservoirs of human capital and has a tremendous potential consumer base. In 2016, the country was home to 193,203,476 people, being the world’s 6th most populous country. World Economic Forum estimates that it will be among the top five populous countries in the world by 2060.

However, a large population is necessary but not sufficient to attract investors. The population has to be equipped with adequate skills to meet industrialization needs. An effort is also needed to attract global buyers.

Thirdly, China and Pakistan have long hailed each other as “all-weather friends”, or “iron brothers” as close as “lips and teeth” in the words of The Economist. There is already solid trust between the two countries, but the Pakistani officials need to visit China more often to convince the private investors for investment opportunities in Pakistan.

The CPEC will improve road, air, sea, and energy infrastructure. It will ensure land, sea and air security. It will enhance trade and investment facilitation and will establish free trade areas that meet high standards, maintain closer economic ties, and deepen political trust. Also, it will enhance cultural exchanges and promote mutual understanding, peace, and friendship between the people of the two countries.

Having said that, the CPEC should not be considered just a ‘gift’ from China, but the Pakistani government should also establish an FDI Advisory Board that shall promote the new image of the country. This includes visiting China more often and ensuring that investors understand the opportunities and benefits available under the CPEC.

Besides, according to the State Bank of Pakistan in November 2017, the country received net FDI worth $207 million out of which $206 million came from China. Potential investors pay significant attention to first movers, other Chinese investors may follow and eventually stay in Pakistan if the government helps the pioneers to be successful.

In terms of binding constraints, a study case of Malaysia estimates that FDI can effectively contribute to growth if it is at least 3.14pc of GDP. Pakistan should be able to compete. This requires overcoming the binding constraints by addressing security issues and risks, hard infrastructure challenges, especially SEZ-specific constraints like energy, roads to SEZs etc. Soft infrastructure challenges include corruption, rule of the law, coordination among institutions, inadequate capacity and cultural biases. Absorption capacity can be adjusted by setting yearly realistic targets of FDI amount.

There are six steps to identify the right industries, as narrated by Prof. Justin Lin. They include identifying countries with consistent growth, with GDP per capita three times as Pakistan’s or was at the same level as Pakistan 30 years ago.

Next comes investigating the existing private investment in those target industries and encourage its development by leasing the market regulations. Attracting global investors into the target industries which lack existing domestic private investment is the third step, followed by paying attention to new enterprises and supporting innovation in the target industries.

Establishing and developing SEZs to eliminate entering barriers, attracting foreign investment, and encouraging industrial cluster. And, finally, providing policy incentives for the first movers, including tax reduction, foreign exchange access, etc.

THE WAY FORWARD

Development can start from ‘low-hanging fruit’ through SEZs. The government should attract first movers to invest and help the pioneers succeed.

CPEC should not be taken for granted. A proactive and systematic approach is needed for attracting investors, together with strong market factors.

Despite long-term and solid trust at the government level, more mutual dialogues and exchanges need to be enhanced in the private sector. Let the peoples get to understand each other.

CPEC and SEZs are open for all investors, including those from other countries beyond China.

The writer is a professor at the Institute of New Structural Economics (INSE), Peking University, China.

SOURCE: https://www.dawn.com/news/1409721

 

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Colorful cultural exchanges between China and Pakistan

China and Pakistan are not only friendly neighbours but also two major ancient civilizations that have maintained close ties in cultural exchanges and mutual learning.

Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1951, the two countries have made great efforts to promote cultural exchanges and cooperation. The Cultural Cooperation Agreement between China and Pakistan was signed in March 1965. During her official visit to China in February 2018, Marriyum Aurangzeb, federal minister for Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage, signed the Executive Programme of the Cultural Agreement for 2018-2022 with Luo Shugang, minister of Culture and Tourism of China, which outlines the overall framework for China-Pak cultural exchanges and cooperation in the next five years.

In 2018, the CPEC Cultural Caravan was implemented with the support of the Ministry of Information of Pakistan. Artists from China and Pakistan carried out a series of exchange activities along the ancient Silk Road and CPEC construction sites. This further strengthened China-Pak friendship and promoted the mutual understanding of our two peoples. Apart from that, artists from the two countries have visited each other frequently so as to learn from each other and enhance the oriental civilization jointly.

The Pakistani government attaches importance to the development of broadcasting and film industry. The programme has made it clear that the two sides will strengthen the mutual cooperation in the technology fields of radio broadcasting, films and television among the state radio, film and television organizations of both the countries. China and Pakistan are maintaining close communication and coordination and actively expanding exchanges and cooperation in this area. The film industry is booming in both China and Pakistan. China will adopt measures to further cooperate with Pakistan in this field, including introducing Pakistani films to Chinese film festivals, importing Pakistani films into Chinese cinema lines, and promoting the film companies of the two countries to jointly produce film and television programs.

The writer is Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Pakistan

SOURCE: https://dailytimes.com.pk/247261/colourful-cultural-exchanges-between-china-and-pakistan/ 

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Chinese Embassy awards 89 need-based scholarships

Chinese embassy has extended need-based scholarships to NUML students who are unable to meet their education expenses.

Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing distributed cheques of the Chinese Embassy Scholarships among 89 deserving students during his visit to National University of Modern Languages (NUML).

China is keen on promoting education in Pakistan, Ambassador Jing said. “These scholarships are just a token and humble contribution to educate the deserving Pakistani youth, he said adding the embassy will continue awarding the scholarships to the needy students annually.

Ambassador said that learning languages of each other is essential for enhancement of bilateral relations and future of both the countries lies on the young and energetic youth of both sides. He said that NUML has become a brand in China for learning languages and education. He vowed that amount of the scholarship will be increased in next year to give benefit to the maximum students.

Director General NUML Brig Muhammad Ibrahim in his address said that Sino-Pak friendship is deep-rooted and time-tested and such kind gestures will have positive impact on the relations of two countries.  It is important to mention that 300 students applied for the scholarship, 103 were called for interview after scrutiny and later by the independent committee recommended 89 students for the scholarship.

Capacity Building: Skills workshop ends at NUML

Ambassador said that learning languages of each other is essential for enhancement of bilateral relations. Future of both the countries is linked with the young and energetic youth of both sides, Jing said. He said that NUML has become a brand in China for learning languages and education. He vowed that amount of the scholarship will be increased next year to give benefit to the maximum students.

Chinese Cultural Counsellor You Yi, NUML Director General Brig Muhammad Ibrahim, varsity’s registrar, deans, directors and heads of departments, faculty members and students were present at the ceremony held at the NUML auditorium.

Chinese students briefed on security, threats

Ibrahim said Sino-Pak friendship is deep rooted and time tested and scholarships are going to further strengthen love of the people of Pakistan for China.

SOURCE: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1702621/1-chinese-embassy-awards-89-need-based-scholarships/

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Microsoft’s AI-Based Chinese-to-English Translations Are Now as Good as Humans

A team of Microsoft researches has made a major breakthrough in machine translation tech. The team has successfully developed an Artificial Intelligence system through extensive training that is as accurate as humans in translating Chinese to English.

The Accurate Translator

The folks at Microsoft told that methods like deep neural networks, deliberation networks, dual learning and joint training were used to train the AI. The purpose of this training was to reach a level of accuracy in translation similar to humans.

The system was tested on a sample of 2,000 news sentences from several newspapers that were available online. The samples were released at WMT17 research conference on which Microsoft conducted the test. Microsoft hired a team of professional Chinese to English translators to verify the results.

Even the research team was surprised by the results and how quickly they achieved them. One of the reps said,”Hitting human parity in a machine translation task is a dream that all of us have had. We just didn’t realize we’d be able to hit it so soon.”

Talking about the difficulties and differences of simple pattern recognition and machine translation, Ming Zhou of Microsoft comments,”Machine translation is much more complex than a pure pattern recognition task. People can use different words to express the exact same thing, but you cannot necessarily say which one is better.”

Source: https://propakistani.pk/2018/03/16/microsofts-ai-based-chinese-to-english-translations-are-now-as-good-as-humans/?utm_source=all_users&utm_medium=notif

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English-speaking countries have greater understanding of Chinese vocabulary, concepts, reveals report

BEIJING: 

There is increased understanding of Chinese vocabulary and concepts outside China, and more Chinese words are being used in the English language, according to a recent report.

“Shaolin,” a form of Chinese kung fu, was listed as the most recognized Chinese word, according a report issued by the China Foreign Languages Publishing Administration (CFLPA) on Saturday.

Top ten list words and concepts also included: “yin yang,” “yuan,” “gugong,” “nihao,” “wushu,” “qi,” “qigong,” “renminbi,” and “majiang or mahjong.”

Chinese concepts listed among the top 100 include those featuring Chinese traditional festivals, soft power, economic, scientific and technological development, such as “a community with a shared future,” “Belt and Road,” “Alipay,” and “Chang’e lunar probes.”

K-P offering Chinese language courses at technical colleges

Citing the report, China Central Television (CCTV) said that many Chinese words which were previously translated into English have now been replaced by the pinyin, such as “jiaozi” replacing “dumpling,” and “mantou” replacing “steamed bun.”

Words related to the Spring Festival have also been searched frequently on English-language websites in recent years, including “chunlian,” the Spring Festival couplets, “chunyun,” the Spring Festival travel rush, “chunwan,” the CCTV New Year’s Gala, and “hongbao,” red envelopes containing money.

TEVTA receives 11,000 applications for Chinese language courses

The festival is now being celebrated in more countries around the world, CCTV said, adding that Chinese elements have also been used by leading fashion designers, including dragon, phoenix and peony designs, as well as the Chinese zodiac animals.

The report came from surveys in eight major English-speaking countries, and also calculated data of more than 300 Chinese vocabulary entries which appeared on the mainstream media websites in English-speaking countries.

Source: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1638086/3-english-speaking-countries-greater-understanding-chinese-vocabulary-concepts-reveals-report/

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China in talks with Baloch separatists: report

China has reportedly been engaging in low-key dialogue with Baloch tribal separatists for over five years. Talks have been held to appease the separatists in order to securitise the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which has projected investments worth of $60 billion.

According to the Financial Times, three people have shared details of Beijing being in direct contact with militants in Balochistan.

Pakistan looks to China, Saudi Arabia for succour

Beijing has so far maintained a policy of non-intervention in the domestic politics of other countries. However, the sheer magnitude and scale of its multifaceted investments in all windows of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) project have sharpened security sensibilities. The vision to create a “new Silk Road” of trade routes in Europe, Asia and Africa has led China to venture into conflict management.

It seems like Beijing is replenishing the void left by Washington, which went from being Pakistan’s war time ally to becoming one of its harshest critics on extremism.

The venturesome and risk intensive move by China has perturbed India, which fears China’s growing influence in the Global South.

The Asian Dream: Rabbani lauds launch of Mandarin classes

“The Chinese have quietly made a lot of progress,” said one Pakistani official. “Even though separatists occasionally try to carry out the odd attack, they are not making a forceful push.”

China treads into some of the world’s most complex conflict zones as it plans to connect a new silk road. South Sudan, Mali and Iraq are some of the places where China has heavy stakes in place.

Source: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1639841/1-china-talks-pakistani-separatists/