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China-proposed BRI to benefit all participating countries: Malaysian PM

Visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday that the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will benefit all participating countries.

The BRI, a reference to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, was proposed by China in 2013 with the aim of building a trade, investment, and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient trade routes.

So far, 126 countries and 29 international organizations have signed up to the initiative.

Speaking at an open dialogue with students at the state-run Royal University of Phnom Penh, Mahathir said the BRI will help bring countries closer to each other and improve trade among them.

“Before, just imagine, driving a camel train from China to Europe, it would take months and months and months,” he said. “Now, if you build a nice high-speed rail, it will take only one day, so communication will improve, and therefore, trade will also follow, so these routes, if you keep them open, they will benefit all the countries along the way. Certainly, East and West will become closer together.”

Mahathir arrived in Cambodia on Monday morning for a three-day official visit at the invitation of Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen.

Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute of Cambodia, an arm of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, said last month that the BRI has importantly contributed to enhancing economic growth and development in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as in the world at large.

“The BRI is a good connectivity initiative that has been providing tremendous opportunities and benefits to all participating countries,” he said on the sidelines of an international conference on ASEAN.

Phea said the BRI has been helping the 10-country ASEAN to strengthen connectivity infrastructure, which is the key element for socio-economic development in each member state.

Source: China.org.cn

Date: 9/3/2019

China, Arab states to promote Belt and Road tourism

China and Arab states are seeking to boost cooperation in tourism along the Belt and Road at an upcoming conference in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

As part of the fourth China-Arab States Expo, the 2019 China-Arab States Tour Operators Conference will be held on Sept. 4-7.

More than 100 representatives from 13 countries including Egypt, and a dozen Chinese provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities are expected to hold discussions on tourism exchanges.

The conference will focus on the future development of tourism along the Belt and Road through promotional events, project signings and tour routes explorations, according to the regional department of culture and tourism.

“Ningxia is reaching out to the world under the Belt and Road Initiative,” said Zhao Mingxia, deputy head of the department.

As a pivot along the ancient Silk Road, Ningxia astonishes tourists with its picturesque landscape, a combination of both the beauty of Chinese southern canal towns and the magnificent scenery of the north.

Source: China.org.cn

Date: 3/9/2019

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Pakistan emerges as leading partner of BRI: survey

BEIJING: Pakistan has emerged as a leading partner of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), introduced by President Xi Jinping six years back, according to a survey released at a media and think tank exchange event held in Nanjing, Jiangsu province.

The fast and smooth functioning of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) makes Pakistan’s role most prominent in the community of the nations. The CPEC is cited as a practical demonstration of BRI’s concept of shared destiny.

According to the survey, BRI has been gaining more recognition globally and will help support economic development across Asia and beyond. The 2019 Belt and Road Media and Think Tank Exchange Event attracted mainstream media representatives and think tank experts from 17 countries, including Pakistan and India.

Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee, represented Pakistan at the meeting. Addressing the meeting, he said that the media and think tanks have an important function in the international community with regard to communicating and avoiding conflicts.

“People are the best bridge to different cultures communicating,” he said. “An initiative is needed for cultures to learn from each other, and we need to promote the development of such an initiative.”

A report released during the event, titled “Leading a New Round of Global Opening up and Cooperation; The Belt and Road in the Eyes of the International Community”, found that the global community’s recognition of the initiative has been increasing each year.

China’s neighbouring countries particularly Pakistan has the best understanding of it, according to the report. In last year’s survey of six ASEAN countries, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Vietnam, 70pc of respondents said they knew of the BRI.

In another survey conducted in 11 Asian countries, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, and India, 56pc of respondents thought the BRI provides a new solution for global governance and a new mode for equal and win-win cooperation among countries.

The international community recognizes the BRI’s positive impacts on the development of their own countries, the report said.

Last year, in a survey in 21 countries, 53pc of respondents recognized the BRI’s positive impact on regional and global economic development, and 74.7pc of respondents from 11 Asian countries believed the BRI could bring more opportunities for their countries’ development.

Since the Belt and Road Initiative was launched in 2013, it has shown itself to be fruitful and has generated higher expectations from the international community.

In a 2018 survey in 17 countries, 72.5pc of the respondents thought of the BRI as a global public product with bright prospects, and 69.3pc wished their governments would further participate in the initiative.

In another survey this year in 11 Asian countries, 76.7pc of the respondents found that the BRI could bring more development opportunities to Asia.

Gao Anming, deputy director of China International Publishing Group, said that the event provides new opportunities for communication and cooperation between Chinese and foreign media and think tanks.

Hu Hong, the vice-mayor of Nanjing, said that the Belt and Road Initiative can help promote mutual understanding and cooperation between China and other countries and that the media and think tank exchange event will help countries to deepen communication and enhance friendship.

Source: Profit Today

Date: May 20, 2019

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Can solar diplomacy green the Belt and Road?

Source: ChinaDialogue

Date: 29/1/2019

China has pledged to fill the global infrastructure development gap with more than US$4 trillion in “sustainable” projects through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). But China is not delivering on its promises of green and low carbon infrastructure so the initiative is facing a crisis of legitimacy.

According to a recent report from the World Resources Institute, about 75% of the US$145 billion in loans from China’s major financing institutions went to fossil fuel energy projects, including US$10 billion for coal plants. The report also outlined how almost all investments in the construction of fossil-fuel power were state-owned enterprises. In contrast, private Chinese companies, which have much smaller investment footprints, have focused on solar and wind.

Looking at mainland Southeast Asia, from which many of the examples below are drawn, I observe that China’s BRI power sector investments in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Laos total at least 83 gigawatts. This includes over 8 gigawatts of coal projects and a whopping 65 gigawatts of hydropower dams across 137 projects in Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos.

It’s well established that coal power is bad for the climate and local air quality. There is also no shortage of studies that show how hydropower overdevelopment in the Mekong, Salween, and Irrawaddy river basins will irreversibly damage their ecology. This is putting the livelihoods and economic base of more than one-hundred million people in Southeast Asia at risk. Yet China continues to build.
Tyler Harlan, a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future claims that solar and wind are unattractive investments for many Chinese companies in countries such as Laos and Myanmar. He blames the absence of stable policy frameworks, challenges with integrating renewables into the grid, and risks associated with long-term power purchasing.

“Hydropower continues to dominate power planning because of the influence of Chinese hydro state-owned enterprises and because it is perceived as a reliable baseload electricity source that can be exported to accumulate foreign exchange,” he said.

Continued investment in coal and hydro at current levels could destabilise mainland Southeast Asia, and partially or entirely offset China’s efforts to reduce emissions at home by exporting them abroad.

Solar champion

China has developed a robust domestic solar sector that could easily deliver a sustainable transition in Belt and Road countries. It has moved quickly in the past ten years to lead the world in solar power with at least 165 gigawatts across solar farms and distributed generation.

China still derives 60% of its power from coal but solar is increasingly competitive. In December, a 500 megawatt solar farm in western China started selling power at .316 yuan per kilowatt hour (~5 cents), beating the country’s benchmark price for coal power for the first time.

China has already exceeded its 2020 solar target by more than 50%. This massive expansion was helped over the past decade by creative and flexible policy guidance, government subsidies for investment, successful R&D programmes, and a government consensus to significantly curb carbon emissions.

The experiences of government agencies, research institutions, and investors form a valuable toolbox that should be exported to rapidly developing BRI countries where a transition to renewable energy is pressingly required. The WRI report found that 31 Belt and Road countries needed about US$235 billion in investments to meet their emissions reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Packaging solar diplomacy

Chinese solar diplomacy could help countries with a lot more than project financing. Solar is commercially competitive in Thailand and Vietnam but energy sector officials and utility operators there often complain that intermittent power is difficult to manage on national grids. Like China, these countries have encouraged investment only to find deployment quickly outpace planning targets. For instance, in 2015 Thailand achieved 50% of its intended 2036 solar target of six gigawatts just a few years after setting it. Vietnam has 20 gigawatts of solar investments registered in its pipeline, which is about half its existing capacity. However, only a minor portion can be absorbed into its grid system due to capacity and distribution limitations.

This is an area where Chinese expertise could help. China has a lot of experience managing the unwieldy expansion of renewables whether it’s adjusting targets on a gradual and flexible basis, changing subsidy structures or reducing power wastage. This shows an ability to deal with the necessary growing pains of a renewable energy transition.

Further, in 2016, China’s National Energy Agency announced a poverty alleviation initiative that provided financial incentives and technical guidance for installing rooftop solar in China’s poorest areas. It allows participating households to sell power back to the grid. The programme aims to help two million households in sixteen provinces earn an extra 3000 yuan per year (US$420) through government subsidies. It will also manage problems related to solar intermittency and structurally optimise the country’s power sector.

Electrification rates in BRI countries such as Cambodia and Myanmar are likely to still be around 50% by 2020 without significant intervention. These countries would benefit from foreign assistance to alleviate poverty through solar rooftops and mini-grids in rural areas. Such programmes would also create opportunities abroad for domestic solar champions such as Suzhou Photovoltaic Technology Co. Ltd (协鑫) which has constructed more than one gigawatt of small-scale solar power plants through China’s poverty alleviation initiative.

China should take responsibility to mitigate carbon intense outcomes outside of its borders

Jennifer Turner, director of the Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum argues that the Chinese government should be more vocal about its rural solar schemes. “These projects not only electrify small communities but also create jobs in installation and maintenance of these small-scale energy projects. These kinds of successes should be interwoven into China’s BRI investments, especially in communities that are displaced by large dams, ports, or roads,” she said.

Chinese developers often build schools, marketplaces, and medical clinics in communities that are resettled due to infrastructure development, but with mixed results. China’s investment in community-level solar could provide a better option if it came with proper technical capacity training for operations and maintenance.

In Laos and Cambodia, resettlement related to infrastructure projects and displacement from economic land concessions are the top driver of internal migration. Providing resettled people with ample access to power will increase access to educational resources for community youth and underpin conditions for rural economic development. It could also help close gaps between rural and urban livelihoods in Belt and Road countries.

Responsibility versus interference

For many developing countries, building a competitive market environment where renewable energy generation reaches price parity with coal requires creative political leadership, physical infrastructure, effective management, and investments in national level transmission and distribution systems.

To date, BRI projects are mostly investments in physical assets such as power generation, highways, railways, and ports. This is what host countries ask for and what China finds easiest to finance given excess domestic capacity. Given China’s aversion to interference in the affairs of other countries, state-owned enterprises or government agencies might be reluctant to get too involved in transformative planning processes for another country’s power sector or the sharing of best practices related to policy incentives for a transition to solar and wind.

But according to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, a technological transition, the scale and speed of which is comparable to the US domestic mobilisation for World War II, is required to prevent a 1.5C rise in global temperature. Countries in mainland Southeast Asia are among the most vulnerable to climate risk. Locking these countries into a carbon intensive future will exacerbate future vulnerability. Given such urgency, China should take responsibility to mitigate carbon intense outcomes outside of its borders and build resiliency within the most vulnerable regions of the world.

A win-win solution

A programme of Chinese solar diplomacy in the context of the BRI would demonstrate to the world China’s intentions to become an ecological civilisation. So far, China has prioritised BRI countries with plans for significant coal expansion and those where free-flowing rivers provide critical natural resources. Chinese solar diplomacy could accelerate the expansion of solar capacity and create conditions for forward looking power systems which could integrate wind, biomass, and other forms of intermittent energy.

An effective solar diplomacy, if implemented, would greatly improve China’s position as a climate leader at a time when global carbon emissions are ticking upwards again, and potentially spur other actors to create a virtuous race toward a 1.5C future. Big lenders such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank would likely be keen to partner with China on such efforts, building on previous pledges to find ways to co-finance projects with China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and other development agencies. Such a move would raise global confidence in the BRI as a force for sustainable development and help make good on China’s pledge to be a responsible global power.

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Thanks to CPEC, Gwadar real estate business on the rise

Source: The News International
Published by: N/A

ISLAMABAD: The real estate business in Gwadar is attracting investors from across the country as the city is being considered a business hub in near future soon after the completion of China-Pakistan Economic corridor (CPEC).

The Gwadar Port City is the next best destination for investment in real estate as a huge area of privately-owned land is being utilized for housing societies in the city.

Deputy Director Gwadar Development Authority (GDA), Changez Baloch told APP that real estate prices had been increased manifold during last few months.

He said that business situation in Gwadar is getting change from past, adding; many people are taking interest to invest in the city as their investment is giving good return due to sharp increase of the value of land.

He said the NOCs of all the investors who were violating the rules and regulations of GDA would be canceled, and they would not be able to start development work within the government-stipulated time frame.

He said the GDA was cooperating with investors and taking responsibility for providing municipal services in Gwadar City.

However, the development of housing schemes in the city is also causing problems for the citizens.

A resident of Gwadar Fazal Lashari said that a number of hilly mounds and rain drainage have been disappeared due to leveling of the land.

This developed land has been marked as private property schemes, he added.

Fazal said that the development work in Gwadar is at final stage, adding that everyone in the area is keen to obtain land.

Ghulam Mustafa a real state owner in Gwadar said that the GDA is creating problem in issuing of NOC for real estate investors.

Over the last year, he said the real estate prices in the area immediately surged due to infrastructure development projects being carried out as part of the CPEC.

The increasing prices have also revived the hopes of many other investors to invest in the Gwadar, he revealed.

Sharing the details of problems being faced in the area, he said that the shortage of water creates hurdles for the real estate development in Gwadar.

The developers and builders have to fetch it from Mirani Dam in Kech district, 200 kilometers from Gwadar, he added.

Samad Khan an investor alleged that some of GDA officials manipulate both land prices and allotment processes in order to benefit the people who entice them, he added.

Lamenting on the situation, Samad expressed sorrow that there are ambiguities and errors in land ownership records as the land settlement were done manually.

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China launches meteorological satellite to benefit Belt and Road countries

XICHANG: China on Tuesday launched the new Fengyun-2H meteorological satellite to improve the accuracy of weather forecasting and provide better meteorological services to countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, reported Xinhua News

The Fengyun-2H was launched on a Long March-3A rocket at 9:07 p.m., Beijing Time, from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

It was the 277th mission of the Long March rocket series.

A geostationary orbit satellite, Fengyun-2H is the last in the Fengyun-2 series. The Fengyun-4 series will dominate China’s new generation geostationary orbit meteorological satellites, said Zhao Jian, deputy director of the Department of System Engineering of China National Space Administration (CNSA).

In response to a request from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO), the position of Fengyun-2H will be changed from original 86.5 degrees east longitude to 79 degrees east longitude.

This means the Fengyun series satellites will be able to cover all the territory of China, as well as countries along the Belt and Road, the Indian Ocean and most African countries, according to the CNSA.

The adjustment will enable the Fengyun series satellites to acquire meteorological data over a wider range, improve weather forecasting accuracy and the ability to cope with climate change and mitigate losses caused by natural disasters, Zhao said.

Equipped with a scanning radiometer and space environment monitor, Fengyun-2H will provide real timecloud and water vapour images and space weather information to clients in the Asia-Pacific region, said Wei Caiying, chief commander of the ground application system of Fengyun-2H and deputy director of the National Satellite Meteorological Center.

The Belt and Road region, which is mainly high mountains, deserts and oceans, lacks meteorological information. Damage from natural disasters, especially meteorological disasters, in the region is more than double the world average.

After four months of in-orbit tests, Fengyun-2H will provide data to help Belt and Road countries better cope with natural hazards, Zhao said.

“The move shows China’s willingness to construct a community with a shared future,” said Zhao.

It also addresses a WMO request to strengthen satellite observation of the Indian Ocean to fill a gap in the region, which is China’s contribution to the international community as a major power of the developing world, Zhao said.

China will offer data of the Fengyun series free to Belt and Road countries and APSCO member countries, said Zhao.

China has helped establish ground stations to receive the data in some APSCO member countries, including Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, Iran and Mongolia. China plans to upgrade the stations and provide training to technicians in those countries.

If countries along the Belt and Road are struck by disasters like typhoons, rainstorms, sandstorms and forest or prairie fires, they can apply for and quickly get the data, Wei said.

China’s meteorological satellites have played an important role in the Belt and Road region. For instance, the Fengyun-2E satellite captured an indication of heavy rainfall in Pakistan in August 2017 and issued a timely warning to avoid casualties.

China already has 17 Fengyun series meteorological satellites in space, with eight in operation, including five in geostationary orbit and three in polar orbit, to observe extreme weather, climate and environment events around the globe.

The WMO has included China’s Fengyun series of meteorological satellites as a major part of the global Earth observation system. They provide data to clients in more than 80 countries and regions. Weather forecasts in the eastern hemisphere depend mainly on China’s meteorological satellites, according to the CNSA.

Since Fengyun-2A was sent into orbit on June 10, 1997, the Fengyun-2 series satellites have monitored more than 470 typhoons emerging in the western Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.

They helped improve the accuracy of typhoon forecasting. In 2015, the deviation of China’s prediction of typhoon tracks within 24 hours was less than 70 kilometers, among the world’s best, according to the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST), producer of the Fengyun series.

The new generation Fengyun-4A geostationary meteorological satellite launched at the end of 2016 can improve observation efficiency by 20 times compared with the Fengyun-2 series, said SAST.

SOURCE:https://nation.com.pk/06-Jun-2018/china-launches-meteorological-satellite-to-benefit-belt-and-road-countries

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CPEC: transport or economic corridor?

Three CPEC routes are expected to form an impressive transport corridor connecting China to the Arabian Sea. If the Chinese start using these routes to trade with Middle East and North African countries, CPEC will turn into a cross-border trade and transit corridor. With enough traffic, we might also get some toll income. But the real returns are to be expected for Pakistan, only if CPEC truly becomes a vibrant economic corridor. how can we make it happen? Merely by creating a few special economic zones? And what is an economic corridor anyway?

Trade corridors have been in existence for centuries, with famous Silk, Spice and Incense routes connecting the Orient with the Occident. Trade corridors depict movement of goods and services in specific geographical patterns. Transport corridors, a most recent phenomenon, generally refer to a linear area, connecting two or more economic centres and often employing a combination of surface transport networks such as road and rail.

Economic corridors however are a wider concept. They represent not just connectivity and trade but also widespread economic activity in a geographic area, in the shape of industrial and economic clusters, connected markets, and a network of economic centres. Connectivity is a prerequisite for establishing economic corridors but not sufficient.

History shows that transport corridors do transform into economic corridors through gradual development, urban agglomeration and increased trade and economic activities, leading to formation of new settlements and economic clusters. This however takes time. The present Grand Trunk (GT) Road is an example of a trade and transport route turned into a vibrant economic corridor, with numerous urban centres and economic clusters along the route. This route however has been in existence for more than two millennia, upgraded by Sher Shah Suri in the 16th century.

If we could wait for centuries, CPEC might transform into a vibrant economic corridor on its own. But if we want it sooner, we need to catalyse this process through a well thought-out strategy.

Firstly, it is important to realise that economic corridor is not a linear concept, meaning thereby that CPEC, besides connecting China to Gwadar, needs to spread horizontally connecting to a network of secondary cities and smaller markets. Research shows that productivity impact of connectivity is higher for rural areas, which previously had poor connectivity. This requires aligning of public investments with CPEC through an integrated spatial planning strategy and plugging existing missing links, especially in less-developed regions.

Secondly, a real economic corridor of this scale cannot take off by public investments only. Therefore, the next step is to mobilise private investment, which would require regulatory and business environment reforms. Public investment should only be used to provide infrastructure or to address market failures in selected cases.

The third area is to ensure equitable growth. With new corridors coming up, there is a risk that much of the investment would flow to already flourishing urban and economic centres. The role of the government is therefore to ensure fair distribution of dividends of these new investments and remove any disparities.

These steps however require well-coordinated actions by multiple federal and provincial government departments. We therefore need to carefully think through our governance structure for corridor development. Other countries have established fully-empowered private sector-driven statutory bodies that coordinate actions across a range of departments and are accountable for clear performance indicators such as quantum of investment mobilised and number of new jobs created, rather than showing summits, conferences and roadshows as their achievement.

Investment for CPEC road infrastructure stands around $11 billion. At 2% interest and 20-year repayment period, it translates into $672 million debt-servicing payment every year. The toll payments alone will not be sufficient to pay back this amount. Economic corridor development is therefore the only way to go.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2018.

SOURCE: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1727674/6-cpec-transport-economic-corridor/

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CPEC: A momentum for prosperity

In a world defined by unexpected conflicts, CPEC and BRI have the potential to push these trajectories into altogether different directions. For Pakistan it will mean trading conflict and insecurity for peace and prosperity, argues the Senate’s Leader of the Opposition, Sherry Rehman.

The CPEC Summit 2018 was an important event with a distinguished group of thought leaders. In a conference full of unconventional wisdoms and cutting edge info, a lower‑riparian speaker’s job was quite unenviable. In more ways than one, the summit signalled Pakistan’s commitment to change and growth. What it signalled bang in the middle of election year was Pakistan’s agreement across the board on one thing: no one wants to be left out of this momentum.

The first thing that came to mind at a big‑ticket CPEC conference in Pakistan was that we are currently standing at a nodal pivot in Pakistan and China’s long‑established special relationship; but what also came to mind is that we are at an axial point where the world is rapidly turning in a re‑calibration of its priorities. Amidst the noise of dangerous new global conflicts that threaten the peace and prosperity of many nations, and fires that engulf entire regions, CPEC and BRI signal another engine moving relentlessly on, in entirely another direction of growth and peace. We can literally hear the wheels of a bold new order shift its shape under our feet.

We can also see the pulsation of the pointless regional neuralgia this partnership is giving some. My advice to them is that, they really shouldn’t worry, but instead join this enterprise.

It is truly the Asian Century. By linking the Atlantic to the Pacific through BRI, President Xi Jinping’s China is poised to redefine the global economic order as we know it, and change the way we think about the world. As the tracks for new global connectivity reframe human enterprise, with Gwadar as its launching pad, and Malacca not the only option, China becomes a two‑ocean power. This is both commercially relevant and strategically significant. As a key part of the constitution of the Peoples Republic, One Belt One Road (OBOR) has now cemented its place in the wheelworks of China’s long‑term vision of progress through economic partnerships. It is a projection of soft power unparalleled in the 21st century.

All this is relevant to Pakistan obviously in ways no other grand plan for exporting surplus was. Today, as we see China’s investments in Pakistan materialising through CPEC, I am clear that a major part of its success is powered by the groundwork and foundation PPP’s government provided.

Under [the then] President Zardari’s leadership, rooted in Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s revolutionary vision to share the Chinese Communist Party’s goals, and PM Benazir Bhutto’s brilliant championing of this joint vision, Pakistan’s relationship with China has gone into another dimension altogether. President Zardari’s vision was based on a grand idea for pivoting to the East at a time when the rest of the world was still busy calling on other capitals. This vision is shared and will be carried on forward by PPP under Chairman Bilawal Bhutto‑Zardari’s leadership.

PPP understood the grand Chinese dream well. Providing state support and strategic access to our warm waters was part of the vision. Therefore, we knew that Chinese development stewardship for Gwadar Port was pivotal to the CPEC becoming a reality.

CPEC has already created 60,000 jobs and Pakistanis would likely be able to make the most of these opportunities. We need trained manpower though.

Over the years, all of us have worked closely with Chinese officials and investors in facilitating projects, people‑to‑people relationships, cultural exchanges, and, most importantly, ensuring the security of everyone involved in CPEC projects. As we speak, 2,700 students from Pakistan were granted scholarships to study in China with thousands already learning Mandarin across the country. This kind of exchange is as important as big‑scale projects. Because building trust between peoples is what binds countries together in ties that sustain the tests of time, in all weathers and all storms.

As the first container ship sailed into Gwadar in March, CPEC has already started making an impact in all provinces in order to bring prosperity. We have a long way to go in providing safe drinking water and schools to the people of Gwadar, but I am glad to see that social responsibility and signature projects are beginning to complement each other.

This must be something we work on together as early projects start harvesting into reality. Everywhere there is an industrial park or SEZ, a port or energy project, there should be a groundswell of children going to schools, functioning healthcare units and waste‑to‑ energy plants, which China is so good at doing at every level. The responsibility for this lies with Pakistan, and with the provinces too, but I urge our Chinese friends to double their interest and investment in social development as they are doing already in partnership with UNDP in Balochistan.

We are proud to say that the forward‑looking government of Sindh has also been leading the way in renewable energy projects to bring prosperity. Sindh province contributes 930 megawatts of wind energy to the national grid with the help of CPEC projects. In line with this, the federal government should allow the use of renewable energy in Sindh.

As part of our history of joint cooperation, PPP looks forward to continuing to work closely with local and Chinese stakeholders in achieving our common goals and interests for the betterment of our people and the region. Two ports are now operating in their optimal capacities and other commercial ports, including the important Keti Bunder, are under development in partnership with the Chinese.

But CPEC is not a one‑party or one‑province ambition. It is a national project that goes beyond infrastructural development and we will stand by all efforts to create consensus and operationalise this grand ambition. Consensus‑building among political parties and provinces is crucial as the windfall from this venture can change the game for Pakistan.

Pakistan is not equivocal about its relationship with China. Right now, as we see promises turning into projects, the widespread public ownership of the ‘feel‑ good’ factor that China generates in Pakistan continues as do questions about equity transparency spread. With a multi‑billion dollar investment like CPEC, responsibilities and obligations for both Pakistan and China double. Transparency and equitability are the foundations for which an initiative with a scale as grand as CPEC must be built on.

As CPEC rolls out in Pakistan, there are three obvious areas to focus on: economy, environment and security.

It is undeniable that as an infrastructure and investment pipeline, CPEC has the potential of taking Pakistan into a quantum leap of prosperity and peace. It is believed that Chinese investment can stimulate a 15pc increase in Pakistan’s GDP by 2030 and would likely create over a million jobs across multiple sectors in Pakistan which will in return bring prosperity. While still in its very early stages, CPEC has already created 60,000 jobs and we hope that Pakistanis would be able to capitalise on this new job market. We need more Pakistanis trained to hold down these jobs.

However, development does not start and end at infrastructure and economic growth. We must also look into tech‑knowledge sharing and collaborations as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The development of regional value chains, a phenomenon that has entirely reshaped global trade in recent decades, is a particularly exciting prospect. Pakistan is well‑positioned to gain from this shift and CPEC is the perfect opportunity to bring advanced manufacturing and production practices to the country.

We have a responsibility to empower our youth and Pakistan can be a powerhouse of opportunities. Almost 60pc of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 30, making it the country’s most important demographic. To put that in context, three out of five Pakistanis are under the age of 30, full of hope and energy, but most without real employment prospects. Close to 60pc of them are currently in unstable or underpaying jobs and about 35pc are working in unpaid jobs. CPEC has given the millions of young people who enter the workforce every year a renewed hope and prosperity. We have a joint task to find ways in which we can tap into the potential of Pakistan’s youth and expand their growth, and look at ways to accelerate youth employment and skill training and to bring prosperity to this region. I look forward to working with the Chinese leadership on ensuring that more jobs and skills are created for Pakistanis.

As CPEC grows, Pakistan and China must look into a broader range of ventures and issues where we can cooperate and work on, one of which is environmental protection and climate change. Pakistan currently is the 7th most vulnerable country in the world to climate change. Pakistan’s carbon emissions are expected to double in two years and surge 14 times by 2050, which is way more than the global average. Given my travels in China, I know that the People’s Republic is no stranger to challenges brought about by climate change.

The enormous industrial investments and projects that will come with CPEC can be amplified if we prioritise creating a clean energy economy. I can only hope that we safeguard the future of the generations to come and that what we do today, in the name of progress, does not create new challenges for them. We hope that the Chinese government can bring to Pakistan the clean energy initiatives they have strictly enforced at home. We are old friends, and whom else can you ask for more, except from friends. Together, we must resolve to move towards eco‑friendly, sustainable and renewable energy sources.

Let me reiterate, if there is one thing that Pakistanis agree on, it is CPEC’s vision of human security, economic cooperation, reform and joint prosperity. As an economic bloc, South Asia will be one of the wealthiest regions in the world, with markets and growth vectors second only to China. At the same time, the region is also forecast for growing inequality, land hunger, poverty‑based migrations, water stress, and social deficits. These trends can be divisive in a region already crackling with tensions.

We believe that CPEC will create a new engine for reinvigorating innovation and ingenuity not just in both the countries but for the region as well. It is this cooperation, innovation and ingenuity that will drive the project of peace in a world divided by inequities, conflicts and social disorder.

The CPEC Summit once again highlighted the Chinese government’s unfaltering cooperation, support and friendship to the people of Pakistan. The future really does lie in peace through economic partnerships. Let us hope our roadmaps take our young people into a brighter, energised, connected millennium.

The writer is Leader of the Opposition, Senate of Pakistan.

SOURCE: https://www.dawn.com/news/1409514

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China-Pakistan Economic Corridor developed faster than expected: Chinese experts

BEIJING : The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has developed faster than expected: Chinese experts, but political stability in Pakistan will be the backbone of future sustainable growth, experts said Wednesday. The recent inauguration of a superhighway project under the CPEC will improve regional connectivity, which will be a positive outcome of the multi-billion-dollar project, Zhou Rong, a senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times.

“The development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is getting better and better, as improved infrastructure will help link upstream and downstream businesses,” he said. Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

On last week inaugurated the Sharqpur-Rajana section of the Lahore-Abdul Hakeem Motorway, or M-3, in Rajana Town near the textile city of Faisalabad in eastern Punjab province, according to the Xinhua News Agency. The 138-kilometer section is a vital part of the 230-kilometer M-3, which is being funded by the Pakistani government and built by China Railway 20th Bureau Group.

“Besides the motorway project, other projects – for example, some power plants – have already begun to deliver benefits to local people,” Zhou said.

He noted that China-backed energy projects had resolved electricity shortages in major industrial cities, which also made those areas much more competitive than previously.
The Pakistan Neelum-Jhelum project, one of the most significant hydropower stations in Pakistan, saw its first turbine generator, which is designed to generate 243,000 kilowatts, officially start supplying electricity to the national grid, according to Beijing-based Economic Daily. Construction work on the project began in 2008, with China Gezhouba Group Co as the major contractor.

“In the past few years, investors from both China and Pakistan got too excited about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and they overlooked the problems with the Pakistan economy,” Mei Xinyu, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation. He told the Global Times. “Now, they need to carefully assess potential risks in some projects, and Pakistan’s ability to repay its debts,”

Mei warned. In the first 10 months of the fiscal year 2017-18 which ends on June 30, Pakistan’s government borrowed $9.6 billion from foreign countries. Of that, loans from China stood at $1.5 billion.

Pakistan expects to obtain new Chinese loans worth $1 billion to $2 billion to help it avert a balance-of-payments crisis. On May 24, China increased the size of a currency swap agreement with the South Asian country by 10 billion yuan ($1.57 billion) to 20 billion yuan.

“Political instability and widespread corruption are still serious issues in Pakistan, and it is crucial to strike a balance between political strategy and business profitability,” said Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at the Renmin University of China.”Still, the CPEC can be an example of regional growth and stability,” he noted.

As Pakistan’s general election which will take place in July nears, the international community is keeping a close watch. The results may affect the continuity of policies, Zhou noted.

“More importantly, the country has to push forward construction of industrial parks under the CPEC, which can be a driving force for attracting clusters of industries,” he said.—APP

SOURCE: https://pakobserver.net/cpec-developed-faster-than-expected/

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Chabahar Port not a challenge for CPEC: PM Abbasi

Islamabad – Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday said the Iranian Chabahar Port wasn’t a challenge for China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), adding for the regional development, they would have to bring more projects like CPEC.

In his address at the International Maritime Symposium held in Islamabad under the auspices of Bahria University with the theme “Impact of Belt and Road Initiative on Geo-Economics of Indian Ocean Region”, the prime minister said CPEC project spoke volumes about the Pak-China friendship and Chabahar Port.

Khaqan Abbasi underlined the need to work in collaboration with China. He said regional connectivity and trade were inevitable for the development and prosperity.

The prime minister said they had constructed 1200 kilometre-long highways in Balochistan. He said Pakistan’s economy had been strengthening, and the Country’s e growth rate remained about six percent in the current financial year.

Terming the arrangement of International Maritime Symposium very important, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said Pakistan’s trade was heavily dependent upon sea lanes. He said 40 people of world trade was linked with Pakistan.

The prime minister also remarked that Afghanistan was grappling with security issues.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi said despite numerous challenges, Pakistan Navy had formulated a robust strategy to safeguard national maritime interests.

The Naval Chief said the prime minister had approved setting up of a modern shipyard at Gwadar which would contribute significantly to Pakistan’s economy. He said the government was fully alive to Pakistan Navy’s needs and was providing essential support in meeting the emerging security imperatives.

Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi said the Ministry of Ports and Shipping had been renamed as the Ministry of Maritime Affairs to broaden its scope.

The Chief of Naval Staff expressed the confidence that Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and CPEC would help realize the goal of the shared prosperity of the region.

 

SOURCE: https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/headline/chabahar-port-not-a-challenge-for-cpec-pm-abbasi/