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Monday, May 06, 2019, 15:25
PM Imran's visit to China ushers CPEC into a new stage
By Yao Jing
Monday, May 06, 2019, 15:25 By Yao Jing

The Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) was successfully held in Beijing on April 25-27. At the invitation of President Xi Jinping, 40 national leaders and heads of international organizations including Prime Minister Imran Khan attended the forum. The event was also attended by more than 6,000 representatives from 150 countries and 92 international organizations. The participants exchanged in-depth views under the theme “Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future”, reached extensive consensus on promoting high-quality Belt and Road cooperation with refined principles, reassured priorities and stronger mechanisms.

First, reviewing and summarizing the progress and significance of Belt and Road cooperation. 

Belt and Road cooperation has created opportunities for common prosperity. Since Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was proposed over five years ago, and especially after the first BRF in 2017, related parties have made concerted efforts to expand policy communication, upgrade infrastructure connectivity, advance economic, trade and investment cooperation, enhance financial cooperation and facilitate people-to-people exchange. The “early harvests” of Belt and Road cooperation achieved so far have opened up greater space for national and global economic growth, provided a platform for enhancing international cooperation, and made a fresh contribution to building a community with a shared future for mankind.

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Second, establishing the goal of high-quality development of Belt and Road cooperation. 

As President Xi Jinping pointed out, to achieve the high-quality development of Belt and Road cooperation, we should uphold the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. We are committed to supporting open, clean and green development and have agreed to act on the principles of high standard, people-centered and sustainable development. These common views have been written into the joint communique of the Round Table Summit of BRF, which has become an international consensus and will lead the parties to refine the blueprint of Belt and Road cooperation. 

The concept articulated by President Xi Jinping of acting on the principles of high international standard, ensuring commercial and financial sustainability of the progress has been widely recognized by the international community. So far, no country has fallen into a debt crisis because of BRI. On the contrary, many countries have stepped out of the “trap of poverty” by participating in BRI.

Third, building a global partnership on connectivity. 

Connectivity is the key of Belt and Road cooperation. We will uphold multilateralism, work to foster a framework led by the BRF and underpinned by multilateral and bilateral cooperation in various areas. We will find greater complementarity between the economic development initiatives and plans of interested countries and international organizations, step up bilateral cooperation and cooperation in third party markets and continue to develop international transportation and trade links, in order to help more countries improve connectivity. So far, 127 countries and 29 international organizations have signed the documents with China on BRI cooperation, which has effectively promoted the development on the economic linkages.

Forth, achieving fruitful outcomes on results-oriented cooperation. 

The BRI cooperation is result-oriented instead of becoming a talk show. In the run-up to and during the Forum, the parties reached 283 deliverables, a great many business representatives participated in the CEO conference and signed project cooperation agreements worth over US$64 billion. China has signed more than 100 multilateral and bilateral cooperation documents with concerned countries, released the report on Belt and Road cooperation progress, the analysis framework on debt sustainability for Belt and Road projects as well as the report of the BRF Advisory Council etc. A number of constructive suggestions on a high-quality and sustainable development of the Belt and Road on next stage were raised in Beijing.

This year’s Forum sends a clear message: more and more friends and partners are joining in Belt and Road cooperation out of their will, and the cooperation is enjoying wider popularity, higher quality and brighter prospects. The Forum has pointed the direction for Belt and Road cooperation and created an important opportunity to promote global economic growth and achieve common prosperity. At the same time, the Forum also builds a bridge and stage for China to strengthen friendship and deepen bilateral relations with various partners of BRI.

China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners and “iron brothers”, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an important pilot project for BRI and a landmark project for the cooperation between the two countries in the new era. 

Following his first visit to China last November, Prime Minister Imran Khan went to China for the Second BRF and made important speeches at the opening ceremony and the Round Table Summit. The meetings between President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and Vice President Wang Qishan with Prime Minister Imran Khan respectively have further pointed out the direction of our all-weather strategic cooperation with clear-cut measures.

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Regarding the bilateral relations, both sides positively evaluated the all-weather strategic cooperation between China and Pakistan, China firmly supported Pakistan in safeguarding its sovereignty and national dignity, choosing its own development path suited to its national conditions. The two sides agreed to maintain the momentum of high-level exchanges, deepen the exchanges and cooperation in politics, security, trade and investment, people-to-people contact and other fields, and firmly support each other on core interest issues.

Regarding the CPEC, the two sides reviewed the important consensus reached during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China last year. This time, the two leaders made a top-level design for high-quality development of CPEC, underlining the importance of bringing policy synergy between BRI and the development strategy of Pakistan, with more focus on industrial cooperation and social uplift and livelihood projects. Prime Minister Imran Khan once again reaffirmed his support for CPEC. His remarks on jointly addressing climate change, building tourism and livelihood corridor, promoting anti-corruption drive, setting up poverty alleviation fund, expanding free trade and investment were also widely welcomed by all the participants at the forum.

Regarding regional and international issues, the two sides exchanged views on situations in Afghanistan and South Asia. China appreciated Pakistan’s efforts in combating terrorism and maintaining regional peace. The two sides were satisfied with their close cooperation in international and multilateral forums and agreed to deepen communication and coordination at all levels.

During the forum, the leaders of the two countries witnessed the inking of six bilateral agreements, including CPFTA-II, Declaration of Completion of Preliminary Design Phase-I regarding up-gradation of ML-1 and construction of a new dry port near Havelian Dry Port under CPEC, China-Pakistan Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement, MOU on CPEC Social Economic Cooperation, MOU on Cooperation in the field of Marine Sciences between the China Geological Survey and Pakistan Navy, Rashakai SEZ Concession Agreement. The two sides also agreed on 14 cooperation initiatives or documents covering transportation, customs, agriculture, postal services, energy, disaster reduction, technology, environmental protection, intellectual property and many other fields. 370 Chinese entrepreneurs attended the China-Pakistan Trade and Investment Forum held in Beijing. They expressed optimism about the development potential of Pakistan and willingness to take advantage of investment opportunities. 

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All above-mentioned cooperation closely focused on industrial cooperation and social livelihood uplift as priorities of the next phase of the CPEC. It is also fully in line with the “Naya Pakistan” proposed by the Pakistani government and the appeal of ordinary Pakistani people. It embodies the expectation and determination of China and Pakistan to integrate their interests and seek common development. It has injected new impetus into the development of China-Pakistan relations and the CPEC in the new era.

The BRI originated in China, but its opportunities and achievements are shared by the world. Pakistan is an important supporter and participant in the BRI. The high-quality development of BRI will create more opportunities for China-Pakistan relations and the CPEC. China is willing to work with the Pakistani government and its people to implement the consensus of the BRF and the outcome of the leaders’ meeting. We will comprehensively deepen mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields, to ensure the expansion and broadening of the CPEC, so as to better serve the two countries and two peoples and achieve common prosperity and progress. I believe, China and Pakistan, by working hand in hand, will forge a closer China-Pakistan community of shared future in the new era, and contribute to a new and win-win chapter of Belt and Road cooperation.

The author is Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan. The article first appeared in The Pakistan Observer on May 3.

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