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Pakistan seeks Japanese investment in SEZs under CPEC

Source: The Nation

ISLAMABAD  –   Pakistan Wednesday invited Japanese investment in the Special Economic Zones under the multi-billion-dollars China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

In a meeting with National Security Adviser to the Prime Minister of Japan Kentaro Sonoura here, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan will provide facilities to the Japanese investors in all sectors.

Briefing the Japanese side on CPEC, an economic undertaking between China and Pakistan, the Foreign Minister invited Japanese investment in SEZs, said a foreign ministry statement.

Welcoming Kentaro Sonoura, the Foreign Minister said that Pakistan regarded Japan as a close friend and a key economic partner.

Pak-Japan bilateral trade currently stands at around $2.3 billion with Japan’s exports to Pakistan recorded at $2.03 billion against the latter’s exports to the former at $250 million.

This year, Pakistan’s exports to Japan declined 1.18 per cent. Japan’s overall import from the world increased to $57.662 billion in June from $55.632 billion in June last year, up 11.7 per cent.

The Japanese National Security Advisor expressed his earnest desire to further strengthen bilateral relations between Pakistan and Japan in the days to come, said the foreign ministry.

He said that Japan recognised the efforts and sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in fight against the menace of terrorism.

Foreign Minister Qureshi appreciated Japan’s acknowledgement of sacrifices and contributions made by Pakistan in the global fight against terrorism and Japan’s commitment to work closely with Pakistan in this regard.

He reiterated that Pakistan was focusing on socio-economic uplift of the people of Pakistan and furthering regional peace and stability.

Both countries expressed firm resolve to further increase high level interaction between the two countries. They exchanged ideas on enhancing cooperation in political, defence, economic and commercial sectors. The Foreign Minister welcomed the upcoming sixth round of Joint Government Business Dialogue scheduled to be held on December 10 in Tokyo and hoped for concrete outcome of the meeting.

Meanwhile, Simon Milner, Vice President Public Policy Asia Pacific of Facebook called on Foreign Minister Qureshi, here yesterday.

The Foreign Minister welcomed Milner to his first ever visit to Pakistan. FM Qureshi lauded the role of Facebook for development and progress of e-commerce in Pakistan, its contributions in facilitating people to people contacts across the globe and for spreading awareness among the masses.

Foreign Minister Qureshi further underscored that the “use of social media presents us with both opportunities and challenges.” Qureshi said that his government firmly believed in the right to freedom of expression. “However, it cannot be used to propagate hate and extremist ideologies,” he added.

The minister emphasised that it should not be used to hurt the sentiments of adherents of any religion. “All efforts must be aimed at preventing the spread of this content through social media that leads to hatred and intolerance,” Qureshi said.  He highlighted the Indian clamp down on internet and social media in occupied Jammu and Kashmir which was serving to conceal the facts of brutal suppression by the forces of occupation.

Vice President Simon Milner said that Facebook remained cognizant of its social responsibility and expressed his desire to work with the government of Pakistan “to make efforts in addressing concerns about the use of social media for spreading hateful, provocative and extremist views.

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India, US, Australia and Japan in talks to build alternative to China’s Belt and Road

SYDNEY: 

Australia, the United States, India and Japan are talking about establishing a joint regional infrastructure scheme as an alternative to China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative in an attempt to counter Beijing’s spreading influence, the Australian Financial Reviewreported on Monday, citing a senior US official.

The unnamed official was quoted as saying the plan involving the four regional partners was still ”nascent“ and ”won’t be ripe enough to be announced’ during Australian Prime Minister Turnbull’s visit to the United States later this week.

The official said, however, that the project was on the agenda for Turnbull’s talks with US President Donald Trump during that trip and was being seriously discussed. The source added that the preferred terminology was to call the plan an “alternative” to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, rather than a “rival.”

China’s Silk Road revival ‘hits hurdles’

“No one is saying China should not build infrastructure,” the official was quoted as saying. “China might build a port which, on its own is not economically viable. We could make it economically viable by building a road or rail line linking that port.”

Representatives for Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Steven Ciobo did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, asked at a news conference about the report of four-way cooperation, said Japan, the United States, Australia, and Japan, Australia and India regularly exchanged views on issues of common interest.

“It is not the case that this is to counter China’s Belt and Road,” he said.

Pakistan’s development by-product of China’s global integration

Japan, meanwhile, plans to use its official development assistance (ODA) to promote a broader “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” including “high-quality infrastructure”, according to a summary draft of its 2017 white paper on ODA. The Indo-Pacific strategy has been endorsed by Washington and is also seen as a counter to the Belt and Road Initiative.

First mentioned during a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s to university students in Kazakhstan in 2013, China’s Belt and Road plan is a vehicle for the Asian country to take a greater role on the international stage by funding and building global transport and trade links in more than 60 countries.

Xi has heavily promoted the initiative, inviting world leaders to Beijing last May for an inaugural summit at which he pledged $124 billion in funding for the plan, and enshrining it into the ruling Communist Party’s constitution in October.

Local Chinese governments as well as state and private firms have rushed to offer support by investing overseas and making loans.

Adding Afghanistan to China’s OBOR is a tricky gambit

In January, Beijing outlined its ambitions to extend the initiative to the Arctic by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming, forming a “Polar Silk Road”.

The United States, Japan, India and Australia have recently revived four-way talks to deepen security cooperation and coordinate alternatives for regional infrastructure financing to that offered by China.

The so-called Quad to discuss and cooperate on security first met as an initiative a decade ago – much to the annoyance of China, which saw it as an attempt by regional democracies to contain its advances. The quartet held talks in Manila on the sidelines of the November ASEAN and East Asia Summits.

Source: https://tribune.com.pk/story/1638725/3-india-us-australia-japan-talks-build-alternative-chinas-belt-road/