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Formation of CPEC ‘authority’ approved by NDC

The National Development Council (NDC) on Thursday approved, in principle, the constitution of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority for ensuring fast track implementation of CPEC projects. The maiden meeting of the NDC chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan discussed development plan of Balochistan, master plan of Gwadar, creation of CPEC Authority and Accelerated Development Plan 2019-20 for erstwhile FATA/merged districts.

A detailed presentation was made on the development plan of Balochistan that included measures to further improve security environment in the province especially the border management, improving the writ of state and development of critical sectors for socio-economic betterment of the people of province.

The meeting was informed that the past neglect of the province, lack of connectivity and economic integration, security challenges and underutilisation and mismanagement of resources contributed towards poverty in the province. A study of utilisation of development budget for past 08 years revealed that out of total expenditure made on the development of the province, approximately 45% were wasted due to pilferage. The meeting decided that every possible effort shall be made to enhance annual development spending of the province over the next 09 years, enabling the province to overcome development challenges, reduce budget deficit and enhance its revenue- generation capacity. Discussing various sectoral development plans, the meeting was informed that communication and infrastructure projects such as completion of M-8 Motorway project, construction of 819 km Chaman-Quetta-Karachi Motorway, Basima-Khuzdar Road and 124 km Awaran-Bela Road project would significantly improve connectivity and communication infrastructure in the province.

On development of coastal areas of the province, the forum approved, in principle, undertaking feasibility studies for port at Gaddani and establishment of special economic zone at Hub.

The forum also approved constitution of National Coastal Development Authority for development of tourist resorts and promoting tourism along the coastal areas of the province including Jiwani, Gwadar, Pasni, Makola, Ormara, Kund Malir, Hingol Park and Miani Hor. On development of ports, the forum endorsed the proposal for development of 08 landing sites and promoting local boat industry including provision of 10,000 green boats. On strategy for development of mines and mineral resources of the province, the forum was informed that the province will be divided into four zones (Chagai Zone, Quetta-Duki Zone, Khuzdar-Lasbella Zone and Coastal Zone) and appropriate model will be put in place to encourage private investment in large-scale mining.

On development of oil & gas sector, the forum was apprised of efforts being made to develop 4 new blocks i.e. Block-28, Zhob, Zorgarh, Jandran & Kohlu for exploration, in addition to carrying out seismic survey at 30 onshore sites. The meeting was also briefed about various plans for improvement of agriculture and water management in the province.

The forum approved, in principle, constitution of CPEC Authority for ensuring fast track implementation of CPEC projects. Discussing development of Gwadar and master plan of the city, the forum approved, in principle, the conceptual framework of Gwadar Special Economic District.

The forum also discussed, in detail, accelerated ten-year development plan for erstwhile FATA. The forum reiterated the commitment of the federal government to ensure availability of allocated funds, timely releases and special dispensation for procurement of specialised execution agencies (NESPAK, FWO, NHA) and facilitation for screened NGOs to operate within merged areas for smooth and uninterrupted development of the merged areas. The meeting was attended by foreign minister, minister for planning, adviser on commerce, adviser on finance, chief of army staff (COAS), chief minister KPK, chief minister Balochistan, SAPM on information & broadcasting, finance minister KP, MNA Asad Umar, commander southern command, foreign secretary, secretary finance, deputy chairman Planning Commission and others.

Source: Business Recorder

Date: 8/9/2019

ZTE launches its first ever 5G smartphone in China

ZTE has already announced its 5G smartphone in China which is also available for preorders since Tuesday in China. The increasingly competitive market of 5G is currently open for big players to jump in and showcase their gimmicks.

ZTE becomes the first smartphone manufacturer to announce the 5G smartphone in the country, its price, and presales.

The smartphone is named ZTE Axon 10 Pro 5G is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 SoC along with 4000mAh battery with wireless charging support.

Apart from 5G capability, the phone displays 6.47-inch AMOLED screen with waterdrop notch, it also exhibits triple main camera with 48MP+20MP+8MP combination, having main, ultra-wide-angle and telephoto sensor respectively.

ZTE Axon 10 Pro 5G is available for purchase from ZTE official website and some other e-commerce platforms including JD, TMall and Suning.com. The phone is priced at 4,999 yuan ($727).

ZTE announced presales after it got secure certification for 5G smartphone, Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, and OnePlus already had their respective certificates for 5G phones.

The 5G smartphone market is inflating, China is not only the place where the Chinese manufacturers have to sell all their 5G smartphones, China alone accounts of 2% of the entire 5G market, China Daily reported.

Huawei’s Mate 20X 5G is just around the corner, the company is expected to release the phone on Friday. The competition becomes intense and ZTE is mulling to grab the earliest attention it could before the launch of other 5G phones in the market.

However, James Yuan, director of research at Counterpoint Technology Market Research is not much positive about ZTE 5G phone, he expects that the competition is so intense and relative to the brand authority. ZTE’s 5G smartphones may not sell well during this year, said Yuan.

Launching first 5G smartphone in China is the major step forward for ZTE, but the company needs to make greater endeavors on promoting its products that are innovative, said, Roger Sheng, VP analyst at consultancy Gartner.

“Currently, all phone vendors except Huawei have to rely on chipsets from other companies. This may place Huawei at an advantageous position in the 5G market and of course it is resourceful and bigger smartphone manufacturer in China,” he added.

According to the research conducted by Canalys, Chinese consumers are expected to account for one-third of the world’s 5G-enabled smartphones within the next five years.According to the forecasts as much as 17.5 percent of the 5G smartphones will be shipped in China by the next year and the percentage could rise strongly to 62.7 percent in 2023.

Source: RS News

Date: 5/8/2019

China Races Ahead of the U.S. in the Battle for 5G Supremacy

In the race for tech supremacy, China is betting it can seize the lead by building the world’s biggest 5G wireless networks.

To get there, the country is banking on the might of the one-party state, making sure its state-run carriers have access to cheap airwaves and fast, inexpensive approvals for putting up the hundreds of thousands of base stations the fastest wireless technology requires.

As top phone companies elsewhere flinch at the cost of building 5G wireless networks, China’s operators are barreling ahead on the government’s mandate, virtually free airwaves and equipment at less than half the price U.S. carriers are paying. Being the first to reach massive scale with the speediest networks could also help the nation in its ambition to dominateindustries like factory automation, robotics and autonomous driving.

“5G is a foundation and catalyst for reinventing industries,” said Paul Lee, U.K.-based head of research for technology, media and telecommunications at Deloitte Consulting. “The fundamental benefit of being the first mover is that you can build business models on the back of that and export them to other countries.”

South Korea’s wireless carriers were the first to offer commercial 5G services, with SK Telecom Co. launching its network in April and Samsung Electronics Co. already offering a 5G-enabled smartphone. But while U.S. carriers in cities like Minneapolis and Chicago have the beginnings of 5G offerings, it’s in sheer scale where China is on course to edge ahead over the next five years.

That size advantage is also reflected in China’s push to invent 5G technology.

The country’s biggest companies have already established a lead in patents related to the fastest network technology. Huawei Technologies Co., the contentious Chinese firm that’s at the heart of current U.S.-China tensions, leads the pack as the world’s biggest telecom equipment supplier. Meanwhile, ZTE Corp., which has also drawn America’s ire in the past, comes in at No. 3, according to Berlin-based patent information platform IPlytics.

But that won’t necessarily translate into network domination. China’s three carriers — China Mobile Ltd.China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. and China Telecom Corp. — are all state owned.

Harvard Business School economist Shane Greenstein says having a bigger government role in 5G may not provide an advantage.

“The private firms in China in the digital sector have an admirable record with experimentation,” he said. “The state-owned enterprises? That is a more open question.”

Patent Power

Where the government is helping is by holding carriers’ costs down.

Beijing is providing the bandwidth for 5G networks almost for almost free, said Edison Lee, head of telecommunications research at Jefferies Hong Kong Ltd.

U.S. carriers, by contrast, bid $2.7 billion at two auctions of 5G airwaves, according to the Federal Communications Commission. In India, the industry group representing carriers says its members can’t afford spectrum the government expects to auction for about $84 billion this year.

robably cost about $30,000 each in China, less than half the $65,000 average in other developed-economy markets, Jefferies’ Lee estimates. Two of China’s carriers have said they will lease the equipment, cutting the upfront cash outlay to roughly $6,500 each per year, Lee said.

“5G rollout has picked up pace near-term and exceeded our earlier expectation, driven by government directive and improved Huawei supply,” Kevin Chen and Clint Su, analysts at China Merchants Securities, wrote in a July 25 note. They raised their target for base station deployment through 2020 to as many as 400,000 from 360,000.

In the U.S., where the government is leaving 5G to companies, carriers will also pay at least five times more than Chinese operators for civil engineering and permits to build 5G, Deloitte Consulting estimates.

The world’s most populous country has about 350,000 5G-operable base stations deployed, nearly 10 times as many as in the U.S., according to a U.S. Department of Defense study.

The report says China claiming the position of standard-setter for 5G, with Huawei leading rival telecom equipment makers, is a risk for the U.S.

This “will create serious security risks for DoD going forward if the rest of the world accepts Chinese products as the cheaper and superior option for 5G,” said the report.

Concern about China’s edge prompted President Donald Trump to float a proposal last year for the government to build a secure 5G network, people familiar with the matter said at the time. The idea was dropped immediately after regulators, industry leaders and elected officials immediately pushed back, saying companies were in a better position to move the technology forward.

Qualcomm’s Concerned

The idea of China securing that advantage is also stoking concern among competitors beyond the telecommunications equipment and wireless services industries.

Chipmaker Qualcomm Inc., for example, is urging the U.S. and other Western governments to embrace 5G more rapidly or risk falling behind China in the potentially life-saving technology, which is also used in self-driving cars.

China will be “saving hundreds if not thousands of lives much sooner than we will as we fumble to determine which is the standard that is best for the long-term road map in the Western world,” Qualcomm Senior Vice President Patrick Little said in an interview.

U.S. risks falling behind China on robocarsQualcomm says

While China’s autonomous driving infrastructure lags behind the U.S., where firms like Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo LLC are streaking ahead in real-world testing, Chinese companies are developing related 5G applications with some established carmakers.

Belt and Road

ZTE is conducting 5G tests on self-driving cars, and has cooperated with Audi AG’s China unit to develop “internet-of-vehicles” technology. In robotics, ZTE is working with internet giant Baidu Inc. and Siasun Robot & Automation Co. to develop 5G applications.

Byton Ltd., an electric-vehicle startup based in Nanjing, will release an SUV in China at the end of this year that includes a range of artificial intelligence functions and a roof antenna that offers data transfer rates up to 10 Gbit a second, which it says is hundreds of times the normal average bandwidth.

The benefits of setting 5G standards may also help China outside its borders. President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative includes a push for Chinese-built network infrastructure across the length of a route that runs across Eurasia, the Middle East and parts of Africa.

“Developing countries that are more sensitive to cost will find the Chinese 5G price-point difficult to turn down, especially when the offer is sweetened with infrastructure and project-financing incentives like the Belt and Road Initiative,” the U.S. Department of Defense report said.

China’s Digital ‘Belt and Road’

For its part, the U.S. is letting the private sector guide 5G development, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said in a June speech to wireless executives in New York.

“For all this talk about our government’s focus on 5G, make no mistake that we are pursuing a market-based strategy to promote 5G development and deployment,” Pai said.

And the U.S.’ crackdown on Huawei, cutting it off from components made by American companies, will be a big test of China’s 5G lead, says Anthea Lai, Asia Pacific media, technology and telecommunications analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence.

“Before Huawei’s ban, China had strong potential to lead in standalone 5G,” Lai said. “But now we have to see how much Huawei can keep its carrier business intact,”/she said.

Date: 2/8/2019

Source: Bloomberg

UAE to become a shining pearl along Belt and Road, says Chinese Foreign Minister

BEIJING: The UAE “will become a shining pearl along the Belt and Road,” a senior Chinese official said on Sunday, as His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, started his state visit to China.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed’s visit to China “will go down as another milestone in the history of our relations,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told the Emirates News Agency, WAM in an exclusive interview.

“Chinese President Xi Jinping and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, will draw a new blueprint for China-UAE comprehensive strategic partnership,” he said.

Exchange of views

The two leaders are expected to have a deep exchange of views on the bilateral relations, regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed arrived in Beijing on Sunday evening on a state visit at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. His last state visit to China was in 2015, while President Xi’s last state visit to the UAE was in July 2018.

China is the UAE’s second-largest trading partner, with almost US$60 billion bilateral trade in 2017, which is expected to reach up to US$70 billion by 2020.

“Our relationship, having stood the test of the changing international situation, has become a good example of state-to-state relations and a front-runner in China’s relations with countries in the region,” Yi said.

Energy, finance, infrastructure, industry

“Our two countries enjoy solid political mutual trust and mutual understanding and support on issues bearing on each other’s core interests and major concerns. With progress in energy, finance, infrastructure and industrial cooperation, our practical cooperation has been thriving in multiple areas,” the minister said.

The relationship enhances both nations’ common security, he pointed out. “Our close cooperation on law enforcement and security matters is a strong underpinning for our common security.”

The UAE’s participation in China’s ambitious ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ has further deepened the bilateral partnership, the foreign minister said.

The cooperation under the Initiative “not only benefits our two countries and peoples, but also serves as a positive example and a pacesetter for Belt and Road cooperation between China and Gulf countries.”

“I believe as our two countries strive for substantive, steady and high-quality development of Belt and Road cooperation, the UAE will become a shining pearl along the Belt and Road.”

The UAE was China’s natural partner in the Initiative, he said, because of the UAE’s “favourable location, rich energy and resource endowment, and peaceful and stable society, and as an economic, trade, financial and shipping hub in the Middle East and the Gulf region.”

Complementary development

During President Xi Jinping’s visit to the UAE last year, an intergovernmental Memorandum of Understanding was signed, taking the ‘Belt and Road’ cooperation to a new stage, the minister pointed out.

Detailing the projects under the Initiative, the minister said that the two countries complemented each other’s development.

“The China-UAE Industrial Capacity Cooperation Demonstration Zone is being built; the whole-industrial-chain cooperation in oil and gas is producing substantial results; the Khalifa Port Container Terminal Two in Abu Dhabi, a joint China-UAE project, is up and running and the Hassyan Clean Coal Power Plant is under construction,” he explained.

Highlighting key areas of future cooperation, the minister said, “Looking ahead, it is important for the two sides to continue working on the existing projects and move towards a pattern of cooperation with energy as the centrepiece, and investment and infrastructure development as the two priority areas.

“It is also important for us to break new ground by expanding cooperation in artificial intelligence, 5G, aerospace, high-speed railway and other high-tech areas. We are convinced that with the personal commitment and strategic guidance of our two leaders, China-UAE relations will see greater development at a higher level and in broader areas.”

China and the UAE have a shared interest in safeguarding peace and development in the Middle East and the Gulf region, the minister said.

China has important trade, energy and security interests in this region, and is ready to work with all sides and play a constructive role in promoting safe and secure international shipping lanes and stability in the region, he stressed.

People-to-people, cultural exchanges

“Our two economies have much to offer each other. After years of development, the UAE has become a leading country in the Middle East in terms of breadth, depth and outcomes of cooperation with China,” he said.

As 200,000 Chinese nationals living in the UAE, constituting the largest Chinese community in the Middle East, Minister Wang Yi said that frequent people-to-people and cultural exchanges have consolidated public support for friendly relations.

With the strong support of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Sheikh Zayed Centre for Arabic Language and Islamic Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University is playing an important role in teaching and promoting the Arabic language in China, he affirmed.

“Sheikh Mohammed’s ambition to introduce Chinese courses in 200 schools in the UAE has become a flagship project for connecting our two peoples. China will continue its full support to the UAE in realising this goal at an early date,” the minister added.

About China’s participation at Expo 2020 Dubai, he said China would make its contribution to the full success of the event.

“China will work with the UAE to further deepen our exchanges and cooperation in culture, education, tourism, youth and other fields, with a view to bringing the hearts of our two peoples closer and consolidating the foundation for China-UAE friendship,” the minister concluded.

Source: Gulf News

Date: 21 July 2019

No CPEC document shared with IMF: govt

ISLAMABAD: 

The planning secretary informed a Senate panel on Thursday that the planning and finance ministries had not shared any document related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Senator Sherry Rehman, the chairperson of the Senate Standing Committee on CPEC, said the government’s statement was in contradiction to media reports which stated that the government had shared details of debt incurred on account of CPEC projects as well as other sensitive information with the IMF.

“I am stating on record that no such information has been shared with the IMF,” Planning Secretary Zafar Hassan replied.

Rehman directed the planning ministry that there should be no ambiguity in terms of CPEC projects and stressed the need for transparency.

Planning and Development Minister Khusro Bakhtiar said on the occasion that it had been submitted in writing that no document concerning CPEC had been shared with the IMF.

He added that the Senate committee should play its role in the economic development of the country by embarking upon agendas and ideas which could motivate the government to work diligently for the country.

He said the senate committee should look into issues through the prism of national interest rather than paying heed to false media reports.

The minister maintained the government-to-government loans under CPEC only stood at $6 billion so far while the rest were either commercial ones or taken under other modes.

He pointed out that the government was now focusing on developing business-to-business contacts with China to promote public-private partnership in the country.

“To boost the country’s exports, special incentive packages will be offered especially to international investors,” he said.

“Around 70,000 direct jobs have been created so far under various CPEC projects while the National Vocational Technical Training Centre is doing a great job in preparing thousands of skilled workers required for the second phase of CPEC industrial sector.”

Bakhtiar said ideally Dhabeji and Gwadar Special Economic Zones should be given priority as it was an International practice that there should be more development in areas where there was economic activity.

The minister said upgrading the Railway Main Line (ML-1) was an important project under the second phase of CPEC.

“Its completion will ensure safe, economically viable and speedy transportation of goods from North to South.”

He said a railway connection between Mazar Shareef in Afghanistan and Peshawar was also under consideration.

The minister informed the committee that the Gwadar Master Plan would be finalised by the end of August.

Senator Kauda Babar said traders of Balochistan should be given representation in the CPEC Business Forum. He also pointed out that the grant provided by China to the previous government for Gwadar airport was yet to be spent.

The chairperson of the committee expressed her displeasure over the absence of the Board of Investment chairman from the meeting. She added that a letter would be written to National Assembly about the Board of Investment chairman’s attitude. “If the matter goes to the privilege committee, he [Board of Investment chairman] could lose his job,” she warned.

Source: Express Tribune

Date: 19/7/2019

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SDPI, Chinese think tanks to promote green BRI policies

Pakistan’s leading think tank ‘Sustainable Development Policy Institute’ (SDPI) and Greenpeace East Asia (GPEA), China and All-China Environment Federation (ACEF) have agreed to promote green Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) policy and practices and improved communication between Chinese overseas projects with local stakeholders in Pakistan. They will facilitate the implementation of higher Environment Social Governance (ESG) standards in Chinese Overseas Projects in Pakistan.

Greenpeace East Asia (GPEA) is an independent, nonprofit, global campaigning organization and All-China Environment Federation ACEF is a nationwide non-profitable civil society organization (CSO) in the field of environment. A delegation from GPEA and ACEF recently visited SDPI to have a face-to-face talk with local stakeholders.

Executive Director SDPI Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said the purpose of this collaboration with Chinese research institutes is to bridge the research communication gap between the two countries, especially in the areas of CPEC, energy and climate change. He said language is a major barrier in terms of research and publications, which can be bridged through the translation of work in both countries. SDPI offered solutions on issues around CPEC, debt trap, trade and climate change. These are the areas where collaboration with Chinese think tank and civil society organizations can be fruitful. The way Chinese is leading the environmental conservation and climate negotiation, after backing out of Trump administration from the Paris-Agreement, is commendable, he remarked.

Ms Li Ai Project lead, Greenpeace East Asia (GPEA) said GPEA is working on fighting climate change, stop toxic pollution, ensure food security and defend the oceans. She said GPEA with the help of its partners is helping the Chinese government in promoting sustainable green development in their energy infrastructure projects, especially in the BRI projects. For that in 2018, GPEA and ACEF jointly initiated the ‘Green Belt and Road Environment Leadership’ project to promote the communication of green BRI policies and ESG implementation in Chinese overseas projects.

Dr. Mahmood A. Khwaja, Senior Advisor Chemicals said SDPI explored the possibility of joint research proposals and programs in the areas of climate change, clean energy, environmental assessment of CPEC projects, sustainable development (inclusive growth), Chinese overseas investment, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and environmental challenges including air pollution.

Wang Jiajia, Project coordinator (ACEF) said ACEF with its network of local civil society organization is promoting social environmental protection rights of the public and sustainable development in different Chinese projects in China and BRI countries. He said green BRI projects can help promote sustainable development in the region and the globe.

Dr Vaqar Ahmed, Joint Executive Director, SDPI said Pakistan and China have signed revised Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which not only liberalizes more tariff lines for both countries but also there is provision for environmental goods. This shows that both countries respecting the natural resources and environmental endowments in the region. He said SDPI has established a dedicated unit of China Study Center to help the government on both sides in providing research support to promote green development in CPEC and BRI projects.

Source: DailyTimes

China, Pakistan strive to build closer community of shared future in new era: envoy

China and Pakistan will join hands in building a closer community of shared future in the new era against the backdrop of changing international landscapes, Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing said.

“The Closer China-Pakistan Community of Shared Future in the New Era is a concrete measure taken by leaders of the two countries as per the concept of building a new type of international relations and a community of a shared future for all mankind,” Yao told Xinhua in an interview.

A China-Pakistan joint statement in this regard was released in November last year when Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan made his first visit to China.

The closer community of shared future in the new era is based on mutual trust, friendship and amity, as well as shared interests and political consensus reached between the two countries and two peoples on the Belt and Road Initiative and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the ambassador said.

CPEC, a major pilot project of the China-proposed Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, is connecting the Gwadar port in southwestern Pakistan with Kashgar in west China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

CPEC has brought about drastic changes to Pakistan’s socio-economic development over the past five years. During Prime Minister Khan’s another visit to China in April, the two countries signed a deal on the first industrial park and future industrial cooperation.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding inked between China and Pakistan to improve people’s livelihood, the two neighbors signed 27 projects on agriculture, education, healthcare, water resources, vocational training and poverty alleviation, Yao said.

“By meeting Pakistani people’s needs, the China-Pakistan cooperation will bring more tangible benefits to Pakistanis,” he said. As part of the international cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, CPEC should be instrumental to regional cooperation, interconnectivity and common development, the Chinese envoy pointed out.

A third party will be invited to participate in the next phase development of CPEC, he added. The first meeting of the CPEC International Cooperation Coordination Working Group was held in Beijing in April to build CPEC as a platform for regional cooperation, development, and prosperity.

Fostering people-to-people’s bonds always remained as a priority of the Belt and Road cooperation between China and Pakistan, according to Yao. “The China-donated Faqeer Primary School in Gwadar has become one of the best local schools, where students have increased to nearly 500 from 150 over the past five years,” he said.

“China also helped build a medical center in Gwadar which has provided health services for the local people,” the ambassador added, noting that vocational training institutes were set up in Quetta and Lahore to help address youth employment in Pakistan.

In recent years, civic groups, training schools, and local institutions across the country have been seeking exchanges and cooperation with China in education, culture, and sports, Yao said.

“The Belt and Road Initiative has yielded such appealing results that the Pakistani people have been getting increasingly enthusiastic about participating in the Chinese projects and agreeing with the Chinese concepts,” he added.

Source: The Nation

Date: 25th May, 2019

China will resolutely defend sovereignty, push ahead with Belt and Road initiative in 2019: Xi Jinping

Source: Times Now

Date: 31st December 2018

Beijing: Presenting an upbeat picture of China’s achievements in 2018 amid the ongoing trade war with the US, President Xi Jinping on Monday said China will remain resolute in defending its sovereignty and push ahead with his pet project the Belt and Road initiative (BRI).

In his annual New Year eve address to the nation telecast live all over the country, Xi played down concerns about the slowing down of Chinese economy, saying China’s economy stayed within a “reasonable” range in 2018. China’s economy grew at 6.5 per cent in the third quarter posting slowest growth since 2009 as it grappled with the intensifying trade war with the US and the mounting local governments’ debt which rose to USD 2.58 trillion.

Xi is regarded as the most powerful leader of China after Mao Zedong as he was declared a core leader by the ruling Communist Party. He heads the party, the presidency and the military. He is expected to remain President for life after a constitutional amendment this year removed two-term limit for President.

In a veiled reference to China’s increasing hold over the disputed South China Sea, he reiterated that China will protect its sovereignty and security “resolutely”.

“Looking at the world at large, we’re facing a period of major change never seen in a century. No matter what these changes bring, China will remain resolute and confident in its defence of its national sovereignty and security,” he said, adding that China’s sincerity and goodwill to safeguard world peace will remain unchanged.

He said “China enlarged its circle of friends” in 2018 and referred to host of international events hosted by the country. On the BRI, he said, “We will continue to push ahead with the joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, and continue to advocate for the development of a community of shared future for mankind.”

Touted as Xi’s ambitious project, the BRI initiative focuses on improving connectivity and cooperation among Asian countries, Africa, China and Europe. Highlighting the achievements of his government on the domestic front, Xi said the campaign to prevent and control pollution of air, water and soil was going smoothly.

“The improvement of the people’s well being speeded up and their living standards were steadily improved,” he said. He said China successfully launched the Chang’e-4 lunar probe to land on the dark sides of the moon, besides a second aircraft carrier which had set sail on its maiden voyage.

Xi said China’s domestically-made large amphibious aircraft performed its first water launch while the BeiDou Satellite Navigation System, which is stated to be rival to America’s GPS, has gone global.

We have also made great strides in our poverty alleviation efforts in the past year. Another 125 poor counties and 10 million poverty-stricken rural residents were lifted out of poverty in 2018,” he said referring to progress to his pledge that China will eradicate poverty by 2020.

He said about 13 million Chinese found jobs in cities in 2018. 2019 will also see China celebrating 70 years since its founding as a nation.

“Next year China will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Our country has braved thorny paths and confronted stormy weather over the past seventy years,” he said, adding that 2019 will see both opportunities and challenges that will require us to work together shoulder to shoulder.

Yearender: Belt and Road Initiative making difference in Asia-Pacific region

Source:Xinhua Published: 2018/12/27 11:42:55

The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative entered its fifth year in 2018, offering fresh impetus to economic development and integration in the Asia-Pacific region, while bringing tangible benefits to the people along the route.

The initiative, proposed in 2013, refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It is aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along ancient trade routes.

MAJOR PROGRESS IN CONNECTIVITY PROJECTS

A series of important achievements have been made in the development of major infrastructure connectivity projects under the Belt and Road Initiative during 2018.

In early December, the first T-shaped concrete beam of the China-Laos railway was successfully erected in Lao capital Vientiane. It marked a key milestone as the construction has been transferred from substructure to superstructure, according to the constructor China Railway No. 2 Engineering Group.

The construction of China-Laos railway, the first overseas route to connect with the railway system in China, starts from Boten, the northern Lao town bordering China, connects with the Chinese Yuxi-Mohan Railway in Yunnan province to the north, and reaches Vientiane in the south.

It is expected to open by the end of 2021, slashing the travel time between Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan province and Vientiane to half a day.

Another key connectivity project under the Belt and Road Initiative, the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway in Indonesia, also entered the stage of comprehensive implementation in June this year.

The project licensing, financing and land acquisition have been put in place, and the construction of 22 controlling works has made breakthrough, according to China Railway.

The 142.3 km-long project will connect Indonesia’s capital Jakarta and West Java province’s capital Bandung in the southeast. With a speed of 350 km per hour, the Chinese-technology high-speed train is capable of cutting traveling time between the two cities to about 40 minutes from over three hours.

Currently, over 2,000 local employees are working for the project and the number is expected to further increase, according to the Chinese company.

Meanwhile, along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a major pilot project under the Belt and Road Initiative, a series of infrastructure projects have also been completed.

Among them, the first section of the 392-km Multan-Sukkur Motorway, the largest transportation infrastructure project under CPEC, was inaugurated in May this year.

The 33-km section spanning from Multan to Shujaabad city was completed ahead of schedule, and the whole project is expected to be completed by August 2019.

The CPEC, a corridor linking Pakistan’s Karachi and northwestern Peshawar and running through the populated provinces of Punjab and Sindh, highlights energy, transport, industrial cooperation and Gwadar port construction, and seeks to expand cooperation to such sectors as finance, science and technology, education, poverty alleviation, and urban planning.

TANGIBLE BENEFITS FOR PEOPLE

In August this year, the China-Maldives Friendship Bridge opened to traffic. It is the first cross-sea bridge in the Maldives and an iconic project of the two countries in co-building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Connecting the capital Male and neighboring Hulhule island where the Maldives’ main international airport is located, the 2-km bridge makes it possible for locals and tourists to transfer between the two islands on land within five minutes.

“The boat ride between the two islands was affected by many factors such as the weather. I used to have difficulties in getting to school in Male on time. I would be very anxious about reaching on time because of the unpredictability of the weather,” local school girl Aisha (alia) said.

However, Aisha can now ride her father’s motorcycle every morning and arrives at school in 10 minutes.

“Reaching in 10 minutes was impossible before the bridge was opened to traffic,” she said.

Rehendhi Rabindan, a foreman in a restaurant in Hulhumale, said the bridge helped bring more customers to his restaurant.

“On weekends, many people living in Male come here for dinner. The staff are constantly busy,” he said, adding that “Many guests who live in Male could order takeaways and pick up the food within 10 minutes.”

While some projects bring daily convenience and business opportunities to locals, some others are literally a game changer for those struggling in hardship.

In Pakistan’s southwestern port city of Gwadar, 15-year-old boy Akbar was both excited and relieved to learn about a new seawater desalination plant which was inaugurated in July this year.

Gwadar had been plagued with acute water scarcity, and Akbar used to stand on the roadside in the scorching sun for hours to wait for a water tanker to stop by. Locals had been forced to fetch water from dams far away, or spend a large part of their income buying water from private water tankers.

In May this year, the China Overseas Ports Holding Company, the operator of Gwadar port, agreed with the local government to provide the latter with 300,000 gallons of drinkable desalinated water daily.

The government has been distributing the water freely through its pipelines to about 4,000 local households.

“The water is free and their water is very good,” Akbar said.

BRIGHTER PROSPECT FOR ECONOMIC LINKAGE

With China now a major contributor to global growth, the Belt and Road Initiative could help strengthen links within the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and South Asia and with China, Standard Chartered Global Research said in a report issued in October.

The Belt and Road Initiative has generated significant interest among countries in the region, given their substantial infrastructure needs and China’s ability to offer the expertise to deliver large-scale infrastructure projects, it said.

According to Nepali Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, “Cooperation in trade and connectivity will create jobs for the people, multiply economic opportunities and enhance the productivity of the entire economy. These are vital components for sustainable regional cooperation as well.”

Nepal and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2017.

“While the locus of economic development shifts to Asia, BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) can be an engine for a new wave of globalization,” Oli said in September.

Meanwhile, for many Pacific island nations, the Belt and Road Initiative is a platform through which they can be better connected to the global economy.

Papua New Guinea (PNG), the host of this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economic leaders’ meeting, joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in May, and became the first Pacific island country to sign a memorandum of understanding with China on the Belt and Road cooperation in June.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill told Xinhua recently that “for international developing countries like PNG, this (the Belt and Road Initiative) is a great initiative because of the access to capital and infrastructure-building capacities that we are now developing together with China. It is able to open up markets and improve the standard of living for our people.”

In November, the tropical nation of Fiji also signed a memorandum of understanding with China on cooperation within the Belt and Road framework.

The Belt and Road Initiative is “very important for the future development of the world, especially for the small developing nations that are remote and lack in their social and economic development, looking for avenues and support to link themselves to the rest of the world,” Keshmeer Makun, lecturer at the Fiji National University’s School of Economics, told Xinhua in an earlier interview.

Putin to become key guest at Belt and Road Forum in China .

Source: TASS

Date: 26 Dec,2018

BEIJING, December 26. /TASS/.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will become a key guest and participant of the second international Belt and Road Forum due in April 2019 in the Chinese capital of Beijing, Russia’s Ambassador to China Andrei Denisov said on Wednesday.

“We believe that a major event of the first half of 2019 will be the coordinated visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to China, who will take part in the second summit of the Belt and Road Forum,” Denisov said.

“According to the Chinese partners’ preliminary estimates, some 40 heads of state and government are expected to arrive, and the forum will have a rather large program and various meetings will be held. They tell us that the Russian president will be a key guest and the most important participant among foreign guests, that’s why the program for him will have a special character and will envisage events as part of his visit to China,” the ambassador stressed.

The diplomat noted that the details of the Russian leader’s visit to China were being coordinated. “Both we and our Chinese colleagues want him to visit not only Beijing. But this depends on the work schedule of both our president and our Chinese partners,” Denisov said.

The Belt and Road Initiative unites the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road projects, which were proposed in September 2013. It stipulates the signing of bilateral memorandums on cooperation with states located on transport Eurasian routes (more than 40 documents have already been signed), along which “economic development corridors” will be established.

The first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held in Beijing in May 2017. It involved 29 heads of state and government, as well as leaders of major international organizations.

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