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CPEC: charting a shared future

The two-day CPEC Projects Summit held in Karachi was an incredible opportunity to showcase the true potential of a project that is so central to Pakistan’s future. The coming together of all stakeholders such as the federating units, academia, policy practitioners, foreign policy experts, and economists reiterated a broad consensus across Pakistan’s national opinions on CPEC being a game-changing project for the country.

During my address, I shared the experience and story of how Punjab has fared in the implementation of the CPEC projects; what challenges we faced and the benchmarks we set in making CPEC a reality.

CPEC and Gwadar

I also used the occasion to thank the Chinese government and people for their support to Pakistan via CPEC, especially President Xi Jinping, whose vision of the Belt and Road Initiative has brought about a new era of connectivity and corridors, connecting continents, countries and cultures.

The last six months have been very important for China, as the 19thCongress of the CPC, as well as the two recent sessions held last month in Beijing have strengthened the Xi Jinping Thought as the way forward for China’s progress and its role in the world.

While CPEC is the most significant developmental initiative in the history of Pakistan, I took the opportunity to tell the gathering, given the propaganda and misconceptions, what CPEC is not.

CPEC is not about one province, one party or one government. As the name denotes, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is about the whole of Pakistan, from Gwadar to Gilgit. CPEC is also not just about electricity, or energy, or highways, or other brick and mortar projects. It is about the transformation of Pakistan into a leading emerging economy, and it is also about all-round inclusive development in a transparent manner so that the less developed areas of Pakistan are able to reap the benefits of development.

CPEC is not about China and Pakistan alone, but CPEC is about connecting the region through economy and energy, ports and pipelines, roads and railways, with Pakistan as the hub of this emerging regionalism.

CPEC success proof of Pakistan-China friendship

The spirit of CPEC lies in strong, unwavering and robust people-to-people bond between our two brotherly countries. The welfare of the people remains the driving spirit behind this mammoth development package, ever announced in the history of the world that seeks to transform lives and build a bright future for the people of Pakistan.

Ever since assuming office in my second term, I have paid several visits to China. Each visit has been an amazing lesson in how China fought heavy odds to rise as the second global economic powerhouse and military power. I have been particularly struck by the warmth and hospitality of the people of China and the commitment of the Chinese leadership and the CPEC towards Pakistan and its peace, stability and socio-economic progress.

In order to smoothen the people-to-people bond and overcome the barrier of language, the Punjab government launched a multi-million-dollar Chinese scholarship programme whereby 500 students have been sent to China to study the Chinese language. The students will serve as a bridge between the peoples of our two countries.

We are also offering Chinese language courses here in the educational institutions in Punjab. Besides, a number of Centres of Excellence on Chinese Studies have been set up in universities here.

Questions are often asked as to what has CPEC achieved so far, how is it changing lives for the better and how is it transforming Pakistan? Let me cite a few examples:

• CPEC has revived dead projects like Thar Coal, which had been talked about for the last quarter of a century, but nothing was there on the ground. Today young Thari women are driving dumper trucks and bulldozers, while coal is being mined and electricity generated through this indigenous coal production.

• Gwadar Port, which was a dream 25 years ago, today is a living reality, a bustling port, the centrepiece of CPEC Projects, which lifted a million tonnes of cargo last year.

• The western route of CPEC today directly connects Quetta with Gwadar by a modern highway, with only 8 hours driving time.

• The Port Qasim power project in Sindh, and the Sahiwal power project in Punjab, both of which have been inaugurated, will help to resolve Pakistan’s decades-old energy crisis.

• The Orange Train will mark Lahore’s entry into the twenty-first century through a modern, efficient, state-of-the-art public transport system

• The Sukhi Kinari project is an important element in the resolution of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa energy crisis.

• The Karakoram Highway’s expansion and modernisation, connecting Pakistan through land route with China, is a highway of hope, a highway of progress, a highway of prosperity.

A vivid demonstration of the national consensus on CPEC Projects was the fact that during the first BRI Summit in Beijing in May 2017, all the chief ministers of the four provinces were part of the Pakistan’s delegation, led by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, in a forceful demonstration of unity of purpose on CPEC. During this visit, I visited the headquarters of National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in Beijing along with Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah and met the NDRC vice-chairman. As a result of our meeting, the financing for Karachi Circular Mass Transit Project was approved.

We in Punjab have also made our own contribution to making CPEC Projects a success, and I am grateful to our Chinese friends who have been so kind as to label some of our successes as the “Punjab Speed”.

But actually, this is a tribute to the creativity, hard work and resilience of the people of Pakistan, irrespective of whether they are in Punjab, Balochistan, Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir or Fata.

This only goes to show that if you have the right vision, and if you can muster up the will to pursue that vision with continuity, plus a “Can Do” approach, everything is doable and achievable.

In this regard, I am reminded of the famous saying of Chairman Mao, which says: “Nothing is hard in this world, if you dare to scale the heights!” Our friendship, our strategic partnership, has been forged into a camaraderie between Pakistan and China, which President Xi Jinping rightly terms, is a bond between “Iron Brothers”.

In building the CPEC Projects, we will Inshallah scale the heights of poverty, unemployment, energy shortages, and build a better tomorrow, not just for the people of Pakistan but for the region as a whole. In this quest for a better tomorrow, Pakistan and China will march forward hand in hand, to bring about a transformation that will benefit all our people.

SOURCE: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1699218/2-cpec-charting-shared-future/

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CPEC — challenges and solutions

Gilgit-Baltistan G-B is home to over 50 mountain peaks above 7,000 metres and three of the world’s largest glaciers that are also the greatest pure water storage assets for Pakistan. According to estimates by G-B’s Water and Power Department, around 45,000MW of hydropower can be produced through utilisation of these water resources. Yet due to the altitudinal factors, G-B has a mountain ecosystem vulnerable to climate change and one likely to be affected by the industrial and business developments in future.

Gilgit-Baltistan G-B has been in the spotlight following CPEC’s initiation. A project of scale as huge as CPEC is pivotal to the economic and social development of the populace of the region, generating more of income avenues, investment options and opportunities of capital utilisation. While simultaneously providing more prospects for cultural exchange, interaction and diversification. Nevertheless it has an unavoidable cost attached to it.

Massive industrial development along the routes starting from Kashgar in Xinjiang, China, to Abbottabad in K-P, Pakistan, will damage the ecological system and the scenic beauty of the region. The biggest threat will be of the traffic emissions moving through this route.

With CPEC, demand for petroleum products set to grow

According to a research study, a single 22-wheeler truck vehicle produces 931g of carbon dioxide per km. From Khunjarab Pass to the Bhasha Dam site, a 427km-long northern and southern boundaries of G-B, stretching on the Karakoram Highway, a single truck will emit 396.6kgs of carbon dioxide. CO2 emission will be heavier, 2913.1kgs, in one trip from Kashgar to Gwadar. With current capacity of KKH, for less than 1,000 trucks per day from China to Pakistan, with the expected maturity of road routes, by around 2035, it is projected that about 12,000 trucks will enter and leave Pakistan, making a total of 24,000 trucks running through the route per day.

Currently, about 2,000 trucks running on both sides emit 793.2 tons in and a total of 5,826.2 tons of CO2 from cargo vehicles per day. In future 9,508.8 tons of CO2 will be emitted per day in Gilgit-Baltistan G-B territory and a total of 69,914.4 tons of CO2 will be emitted into the atmosphere along the entire route in a single day.

In general, CO2 is a heavy gas that does not move upwards into the atmosphere and with high mountains in surroundings remains trapped in between, this will be apocalyptic to the region’s ecosystem. The high volume of the greenhouse CO2 trapped in mountains will significantly increase atmospheric temperature causing a heavy melting of glaciers. For a water-stressed country like Pakistan, this will initially cause floods and then alarmingly severe water shortage.

High concentration of pollutants in atmosphere will drastically deteriorate the air quality in the area and substantially increase the level of air pollution.

Scientific research and advanced technologies provide solutions to threats like global warming and environmental degradation. One such solution to have eco-friendly energy sources for transportation is hydrogen. Hydrogen, an energy carrier, can be used as fuel in vehicles, as most beneficially it emits water vapour but no harmful gases. Moreover, due to greater energy density than conventional fossil fuels efficiency of hydrogen-fuelled vehicles is significantly higher than that of conventional vehicles.

Key to CPEC success

Germany is currently leading in hydrogen technology and plans to make hydrogen accessible in all its big cities by 2020. In G-B’s case, hydrogen can be produced here by local hydropower resources with a zero carbon footprint. the G-B government needs to be proactive in decision-making, planning and strategising for future while collaborating with market leaders in this technology. As CPEC infrastructure is developed in stages and will take at least 10 to 15 years to complete and run on its optimal targets, a proactive initiative in this regard is vital to protect the environment.

As China is investing in development of environmentally-sustainable technologies, agreements with its government can be made to make CPEC an emission-free route.

SOURCE: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1688108/6-cpec-challenges-solutions/

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Russia keen to invest in CPEC, Balochistan: Counsel General

QUETTA: Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was creating prosperous opportunities for profitable investment in Balochistan, while ‘we want the companions of the country to take timely advantage from the Russian Federation’.

He said this while talking with Russia’s Consul General Dr Aleksander G Khozin, who called him at Governor House on Thursday. He said that Russian investors would provide all facilities and security in Balochistan’s Gwadar.

During a meeting, they discussed the relations between Pakistan and Russia, and the implementation of CPEC in the country. Governor Muhammad Khan said Balochistan is basically an agricultural area where there is a special significance of various vegetable and fruit production.

They expressed satisfaction over Russia and Pakistan’s growing relations. Russian Consulate General said that ‘we could provide Russia with an easy route to central Asia for trade expansion’.

Governor Balochistan highlighted the importance of regional cooperation organisation and regional unity, saying that due to the effective role of these organisations, the possibility of cooperation and development has been increased in the region. He hoped that relations of both countries would be more stable in future which is for benefit of people of both the countries.

SOURCE: https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/03/23/russia-keen-to-invest-in-cpec-balochistan-counsel-general/

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PCJCCI identifies potential sectors for Pak-China joint ventures

LAHORE: Pak-China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCJCCI) has identified seven high potential sectors for joint ventures and investment between Pakistan and China, which include handicrafts, textile, leather, gemstone, sportswear, surgical instruments, and technology-based agriculture along with reclamation and salinity control.

Pak-China Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCJCCI) office-bearers presented a research paper to Deputy Minister China and Counsel for the Promotion of International Trade Jinan, Teng Shaung, during a meeting here at the Expo Centre, according to the joint chamber’s spokesperson on Monday.

Teng Shaung was heading an 81-member delegation to participate in the Auto Show, which got the entire auto engineering sector assembled under one roof. All government high-ups, local and international buyers and manufacturers along with machinery manufacturers, raw material providers, and service providers were present at the event. She also distributed a questionnaire backed by primary research to have direct feedback from the stakeholders of the auto market on this occasion.

The deputy minister was satisfied and hopeful for the joint business ventures in different automotive sectors. She thanked PCJCCI President SM Naveed and other office-bearers for serving as a bridge between business communities of Pakistan and China to explore and expand the opportunities in the commercial and industrial sector.

During her trip, Teng Shaung also visited many places including different trade bodies, expo centers, wholesale markets, and shared her primary research with local stakeholders. The idea behind the primary research was to gauge true potential and make a SWOT analysis for disseminating prospective investors from China in related sectors. She highly applauded the research conducted by PCJCCI in this regard and assured to disseminate the valuable findings of this research among Chinese investors.

SOURCE: https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/03/19/pcjcci-identifies-potential-sectors-for-pak-china-joint-ventures/

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Link Chabahar with Gwadar: Iran tells Pakistan

In a three-day tour of Pakistan, the Iranian Foreign Minister invited Pakistan to participate in the port of Chabahar. Dr. Javad Zarif, the Iraninan FM, also initiated discussion about the development of links between Chabahar and Gwadar.

Dr. Zarif was scheduled to meet with his Pakistani counterpart, in addition to the Prime Minister of Pakistan and other prominent ministers, address an economic forum as well as the Institute of Strategic Studies in Islamabad. While speaking at the Institute of Strategic Studies, he stated, “We offered to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC). We have also offered Pakistan and China to participate in Chahbahar.”

These statements are meant to allay Pakistani concerns about Indian involvement in the development of the port of Chabahar. India has invested nearly $500 million in Chabahar port. The development of this port in South-eastern Iran is part of India’s strategy to bypass Pakistan and establish trade routes with the landlocked Central Asian Republics (CARs).

These land-based trade routes will, in turn, be connected with the Chabahar port. Previously, the only real way for India to gain access to CARs was through Pakistan. NATO troops in Afghanistan also get supplies through the port at Karachi. Pakistan fears that India may bypass and encircle it via what New Delhi calls the International North-South Transport Corridor.

Pakistan is also concerned about espionage and subversive activities undertaken by Indian intelligence officials that may be embedded in the staff working on Chabahar. Kulbushun Yadav is the most prominent example. Yadav, the ex-Indian navy officer, established a business in Chabahar in Iran as part of a cover to facilitate sabotage and subversion against Pakistan. An envoy from Iran at the time said that Iran was ‘very accurately’examining the affair.

Supreme leader of Iran, Ayatullah Khameini has spoken in support of the Kashmiri freedom struggle.

In February of this year, the Iranian Prime Minister Hassan Rouhani visited India at the invitation of Narendra Modi. Rouhani’s visit spanned over three days and a number of agreements were signed between Iran and India. The emphasis of these agreements was on the Chabahar port.

A leasing agreement was also signed between Tehran and New Delhi during Rouhani’s visit, according to which India has operational control over part of the Chabhar port for the next 18 months. Although the Supreme leader of Iran, Ayatullah Khameini has spoken in support of the Kashmiri freedom struggle, Hassan Rouhani, during his tour to India, did not mention Kashmir, which is perhaps a sign of growing Indo-Iran ties.

The Iranian foreign minister, however, clarified in his statements that Chabahar was not meant to ‘encircle Pakistan…strangulate anybody’. He also said that Iran would never allow its territory to be used against Pakistan just like Pakistan would not allow its territory to be used against Iran. “Our relations with India, just like Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia, are not against Pakistan as we understand Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia are not against Iran,” he added.

Read more: CPEC: Pakistan’s quest for energy security

It is interesting to note that the Iranian Foreign Minister’s visit to Pakistan coincides with the visit of the Imam of Kaab’a, who also met with the Prime Minister of Pakistan. The Imam-e-Kaaba has emphasized that the Muslim world considers Pakistan its strength. He also reiterated that Kashmir is part of Pakistan.

In February last month, Pakistan sent a contingent of troops to Saudi Arabia on a training and advisory mission as part of a long-standing defense cooperation agreement between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The two countries have enjoyed a close relationship for decades. Relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, have remained fraught ever since the Iranian revolution in 1979. The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia included Iran in his new definition of ‘axis of evil’. The two countries are strategic competitors in a number of theaters, most notably in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and the broader middle-east in general.

Read more: Why China needs CPEC?

The Foreign Minister of Pakistan addressed lawmakers in the National Assembly two days before the beginning of the visit of his Iranian counter-part and assured that Pakistani troops in Saudi Arabia are strictly there for ‘internal security’ of Saudi Arabia. In what could easily be termed skillful diplomacy, the Iranian Foreign Minister has likened Pakistan’s relationship with Saudi Arabia to Iran’s relationship with India.

There are a number of avenues where Pakistan and Iran can improve their relationship. Both stand to benefit from enhanced border security, increased bilateral trade, banking ties and the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. The Prime Minister of Pakistan called on Dr. Zarif during his visit and expressed Pakistan’s commitment to resolve these outstanding issues, in particular the IP-gas pipeline that has stalled due to problems faced by the Pakistani side.

Trade between Iran and Pakistan stands at $1.2 billion. The Pakistani PM said that both countries must make their efforts to increase it to $5 billion by 2021. The central banks of both countries, the State Bank of Pakistan and the Central Bank of the Islamic Republic of Iran, need to establish ties that would allow banks from each country to expand commercial ties across the border. A statement by the Foreign Office (FO) said that the two sides agreed to continue engagement to enhance bilateral trade and investment and concluding a Free Trade Agreement on priority basis.

Read more: Confront the Challenges: Engage Afghanistan, Protect CPEC

The two ports of Gwadar and Chabahar may become competitors in the not-so-distant future but it need not be a zero-sum game. Connectivity between the ports and mutual economic cooperation under the umbrella of CPEC can prove to be a win-win situation for both countries, provided that border policing is foolproof. This would inhibit any potential subversive activity. Two new border crossings between Iran and Pakistan also need to be properly developed as a priority.

The FO statement also added that ‘The Foreign Ministers underlined that as two brotherly neighboring countries, Iran and Pakistan, would deepen connectivity between the two sister ports of Gwadar and Chahbahar to benefit from their commentaries.’

Source: https://www.globalvillagespace.com/iran-sends-out-chabahar-port-invitation-to-pakistan/

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CPEC progress and its critics

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the main focus of the 10th annual report issued by the Lahore-based Burki Institute of Public Policy. The programme is still not fully formed; it will develop as its implementation proceeds. Economists call this way of developing a programme, ‘learning by doing’. The only other foreign-funded programme of approximately this size implemented by Pakistan was the Indus Waters Replacement Works. In current dollar terms, it was as large as CPEC but its overall aim was more limited. It was designed to replace the water from the Indus River System that India was allowed to use for its own development. CPEC has come to Pakistan not that well formed. It will develop over time in a situation that will be highly dynamic.

To realize its full potential, the large CPEC programme must have the support of the entire citizenry. With highways, railways, ports, power plants and industrial estates, there will hardly be a part of Pakistan the CPEC programme will not touch. It will profoundly change the structure of the country’s economy and alter the lives of all people. There are, therefore, good reasons to explain to the citizenry what will be the consequences for them of the initiative when, in terms of implementation, it has achieved a degree of maturity.

Given the reach of the programme and the fact that it is sponsored by the country that now has the world’s second-largest economy, there is reason to believe that some of China’s rival powers are attempting to throw blocks in the way as the initiative proceeds. Some of what we have begun to hear and read in newspaper coverage uses phrases that were manufactured abroad and exported to Pakistan. One repeatedly comes across statements that the programme has been launched to colonise Pakistan; that the ultimate aim of the Chinese enterprises and thousands of their employees who have entered the country has a historical precedence, the British East India Company that came in the 18thcentury to trade but stayed on to rule; that through the programme, China is engaged in achieving its aim of global domination without any interest in promoting Pakistan’s progress. This kind of talk is aimed to instill fear into Pakistani hearts. We must guard against this reading of the initiative and ride over the obstacles that are being thrown in the way of the programme’s successful implementation.

Competition among Chinese companies

Given the size of the China-financed programme and its dynamic nature, it has arrived in Pakistan not fully defined and developed. Its content and scope will change as it progresses. All the governments involved in developing and implementing this vast enterprise — the governments in Islamabad and Pakistan’s provincial capitals as well as the one in Beijing — will build on the programme’s successes. They will also work to mitigate the problems as the implementation of the programme proceeds. But it should be emphasised — as the Burki Institute’s report does — the programme will bring about positive change in Pakistan. The term we have used in many places in the report is that it will be a ‘game changer’ for Pakistan. It will add possibly as much as two percentage points to the growth rate in Pakistan’s GDP. If that does occur, Pakistan’s economic growth trajectory will begin to match that travelled by China and the ‘miracle’ economies of East Asia.

CPEC will bring about greater integration of Pakistan’s backward areas with those that are more developed. We can expect considerable narrowing of the per capita income gap between the provinces of Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, on the one hand, and Punjab, on the other. This will happen in part by taking the sector of agriculture towards the production of higher-value products such as fruits and vegetables. These would be processed and exported to western parts of China that don’t have the local capacity to provide for the anticipated increase in their population.

Sheer size of CPEC portfolio appals IMF

China also has a growing appetite for livestock products, a sector that has done well but remains relatively underdeveloped in Pakistan. Supplying meat, milk and milk products to western China could help this sector to grow. Since women are actively involved in this sector, its development would help increase their income and independence.

The CPEC initiative will link Pakistan with the global economic system from which it has remained relatively detached. One way this initiative could bring Pakistan’s economy closer to that of the rest of the world is by making the country’s small engineering enterprises enter the supply chains to feed into the production of final products. The global automobile industry is a good example of the way parts and components manufactured in different parts of the world get used to produce the final product. The large car and truck-manufacturing industry in the United States is heavily dependent on the parts made in Mexico. China is now on the way to becoming the world’s largest automobile manufacturer. It too could import parts made in Punjab’s ‘golden triangle’ bounded by the cities of Lahore, Gujranwala and Gujrat.

Pakistan’s latest shot at industrialization under CPEC needs homework

These are some of more important outcomes of the CPEC initiative which we should take into account while planning for the country’s future. We should also recognize that there are foreign interests that are interested in derailing the programme. The attempts that are being made should be understood in terms of what they are. They have been launched to hurt Pakistan while attempting to keep China out of the strategic area of which Pakistan is an important part.

Source: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1663755/6-cpec-and-its-critics/

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Stability in Pakistan integral to China’s development, reiterates Chinese ambassador

LAHORE: Ambassador of People’s Republic of China to Pakistan Yao Jing has said that China cannot afford to lose Pakistan because stability in its neighbourhood is integral to China’s development.

He made these remarks while speaking at an interactive policy dialogue organized by Lahore Centre for Peace Research (LCPR) on the topic ‘Pakistan-China Relations in the 21st century’, which was arranged in his honour, said in a press release issued on Saturday.

In his keynote speech, the Ambassador of China emphasised that Pakistan matters to China’s vision of development and growth as enshrined in last year’s 19th China’s Communist Party Convention.

Chinese ambassador meets CJP

He said that Pakistan’s importance to China would continue to increase because of the centrality of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) route in the Belt and Road Initiative(BRI). Yao added that a stable Pakistan was vital to China’s growth.

The Ambassador reminded the distinguished gathering that China envisages CPEC to be a lead project for connectivity and peace.

He stated the project was not only for the benefit of Pakistan and China as “ownership of CPEC finally belongs to the whole world”.

Earlier, Ambassador Shamshad Ahmed Khan, former foreign secretary and currently Chairman Lahore Center for Peace Research, highlighted the unwavering commitment of Pakistan and China’s leadership to build stronger economic and social ties between the two countries.

CPEC projects: Chinese ambassador urges active participation

He emphasised that China’s relations with Pakistan were not based on transient interests but have remained unconditional. He also noted that China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a huge regional agenda with mutual interests rooted in China’s and Pakistan’s common vision for a better future and prosperity of the region.

“Rooted within BRI is China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative that harbours economic prosperity for greater benefit of the entire region,” he remarked.

Khan praised the Chinese leadership in promoting world-wide connectivity for socio-economic development and reiterated that Pakistan was also determined in its commitment to support CPEC.

The event was also attended by the Chinese Consul General Long Dingbin, former Finance Minister, Dr Salman Shah, former Pakistani diplomats and notable defense analysts, as well as people from the academia.

 

Source: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1662661/1-stability-pakistan-integral-chinas-development-reiterates-chinese-ambassador/

Under CPEC: First container vessel anchors at Gwadar

QUETTA: 

The first ever container vessel MS TIGER under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project arrived at the Gwadar port on Wednesday, this vessel was escorted to the port by the navy ships, PNS DEHSHAT and KARAR where an impressive ceremony was held to welcome the ship onboard.

The new ship container service called the Karachi-Gwadar Gulf Express will connect the Gwadar port to the Middle Eastern hub of Jebel Ali as well as the neighboring Emirati ports.

PM to visit Gwadar amid concerns over anti-CPEC propaganda

CPEC is a game changer for Pakistan and its success is just a prelude to the economic prosperity of the country and hence has taken central stage in the economic, political and security calculus of not only Pakistan but the entire region”, said Commander Coast of Pakistan Navy, Rear Admiral Moazzam Ilyas while speaking at the reception ceremony.

He also said that considering the importance of the Gwadar Port as focal point of CPEC, its security is paramount. For this purpose, the Pakistan navy has raised Task Force 88 to provide maximum defence to the port and its surrounding areas.

Source: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1653969/1-cpec-first-container-vessel-anchors-gwadar/

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China’s parliament puts Xi on course to rule for life

BEIJING: 

China’s Xi Jinping on Sunday secured a path to rule indefinitely as parliament abolished presidential term limits, handing him almost total authority to pursue a vision of transforming the nation into an economic and military superpower.

The move reverses the era of “collective” leadership and orderly succession that was promoted by late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping to ensure stability following the turbulent one-man rule of Communist China’s founder Mao Zedong.

The historic constitutional amendment breezed through the rubber-stamp parliament with 2,958 in favour, two against and three abstentions despite an unusual bout of online criticism that censors have scrambled to extinguish.

China’s supreme leader: Is extending Xi Jinping return to dictatorship?

Xi stood up first at the imposing Great Hall of the People in Beijing to cast his paper ballot in a red box, as delegates of the National People’s Congress applauded after each vote on the constitutional amendment to lift the two five-year term limit for the presidency.

The first constitutional amendment in 14 years had been expected to breeze through the legislature, which has never rejected a Communist Party diktat in its half-century of existence.

“This is the urgent wish of the common people,” Ju Xiuqin, a delegate from northeastern Heilongjiang province, told AFP, echoing party claims that the amendment had the unanimous support of “the masses”.

With little suspense, Xi to secure lifetime presidency

Xi, 64, has consolidated power since 2012 when he was appointed to the country’s top office: general secretary of the Communist Party.

While the position has no term limits, his two predecessors both gave it up after two terms as part of an orderly process established by Deng.

The country’s presidency is a largely ceremonial office, but the constitutional limits meant Xi would have had to give it up in 2023.

But with the new amendments, he could now have a lifetime to push his goal of turning China into global economic powerhouse with a “world-class” military by mid-century.

His rise has been accompanied by tighter restrictions on civil society, with the detention of activists and lawyers, and stricter limits on the already heavily controlled internet.

At the same time, he gained a measure of popularity among Chinese people through a relentless crackdown on corruption that has punished more than a million party officials, and sidelined potential rivals.

“I think that during the past five years, he has been carrying out a soft coup, including making the Politburo a mere figurehead,” Chinese political commentator Wu Qiang told AFP, referring to the 25-member Communist Party body one level under the ruling council.

CPEC is not just for Pakistan: Chinese newspaper

“He wants to prevent power from falling into the hands of technocrats like Jiang (Zemin) and Hu (Jintao),” Wu said, referring to Xi’s two predecessors.

While attention has focused on the term limits, the amendments also include major provisions that will engrave Xi’s eponymous political mantra in the constitution and hand the Communist Party an even larger role in the country’s affairs.

In a written report, the head of the parliament’s Standing Committee, Zhang Dejiang, said the amendments “will ensure the constitution improves and develops in step with the times and provide a firm constitutional guarantee for upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era”.

The Communist Party says the move merely aligns the presidency with the limit-free titles of party secretary and military chief, claiming “the masses” unanimously called for the removal of term limits.

But the proposal was kept secret until it was revealed in a state media report on February 25, a week before the legislature’s opening session.

The party later disclosed that Xi had presided over a meeting of the Politburo in September during which the leadership decided to revise the constitution.

The party then sought proposals and opinions, culminating in a decision in late January to introduce constitutional amendments at the NPC.

“Xi Jinping has presided over so many important projects such as economic reforms and the fight against corruption. There was a consensus that we supported him having more time to finish his work,” said Dou Yanli, a delegate from eastern Shandong province.

The surprise move triggered a backlash online, prompting censors to block phrases and words such as “I disagree” and “emperor” and the image of Winnie the Pooh, the cartoon bear to which Xi has been compared.

Activists fear that removing term limits may lead to a further tightening of already strict controls on media, civil society and religion, as Xi tries to impose his highly ideological vision of socialism on every aspect of society.

Beijing-based activist Hu Jia, who says authorities forced him to leave the capital during the congress, called the amendment “illegal”.

“Xi asked all people to obey the constitution, and then used the amendment to place himself above it. He used the constitution as the ultimate legal weapon that binds officials and all citizens.”

Source: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1657099/3-chinas-parliament-puts-xi-course-rule-life/

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UK keen to invest in CPEC: Boris Johnson

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal has said Pakistan is undergoing a remarkable transformation as a result of the improved security situation, impressive economic growth and consolidation of democratic institutions.

Talking to British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in London, he said Pakistan greatly appreciates UK’s role as an important trade and investment partner.

The Interior Minister also informed the foreign secretary about Pakistan’s efforts to eliminate extremism and terrorism from the country.

The British foreign secretary commended Pakistan’s economic reforms agenda and acknowledged that Pakistan has great potential for economic growth.

He particularly appreciated Pakistan’s counter-terrorism efforts to bring about peace in the region and the world at large.

Boris said that the UK is keenly interested in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and would like to benefit from opportunities arising from this initiative.

Source: https://profit.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/02/14/uk-keen-to-invest-in-cpec-boris-johnson/