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Renewing ties with CPEC – Journal

Renewing ties with CPEC – Journal
Renewing ties with CPEC – Journal

 


Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was in China last week on a five-day visit to promote improvement of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative and urge Chinese companies to invest in Pakistan.

In a meeting with President Xi Jinping, the two leaders discussed various dimensions of the multifaceted relations between Pakistan and China and reaffirmed their long-standing friendship, all-weather strategic cooperation, economic and trade ties and their CPEC.

[We] mutually agreed to strengthen economic cooperation by timely completion of ongoing CPEC initiatives as it enters the next phase with five new corridors: [growth corridor, economic development projects corridor, innovation corridor, green corridor, and regional connectivity corridor].

I emphasized that Pakistan would continue to work with China to promote regional connectivity and economic development and make Gwadar a connectivity hub for the socio-economic development of Pakistan, Mr. Sharif le X said after the meeting .

Countries are realigning corridor goals and discussing investment opportunities blocked by bureaucratic red tape and worker insecurity.

President Xi also promised to extend financial support by investing in different sectors. President Xi reassured [us] that China would continue to support Pakistan's sovereignty, territorial integrity and development and help us harness our geo-economic potential as a regional economic and trade hub.

The trip resulted in 23 memorandums of understanding and agreements aimed at deepening cooperation in the areas of technology, transportation, industry, infrastructure, energy, agriculture, media, health, water and socio-economic development. It remains unclear how these MoUs will materialize or whether they will propel the corridor project into its second phase of monetization to help Islamabad repay its debt.

As Islamabad negotiates a tough bailout with the International Monetary Fund to pull its economy out of the doldrums, Shehbaz Sharif's cash-strapped government is desperately turning to Beijing and Gulf countries for investment in Pakistan to consolidate its sluggish economy.

The resumption of Chinese official and private investment under the multibillion-dollar corridor initiative, which has seen a slowdown in recent years due to Pakistan's political, economic and security problems, is also expected to boost economic growth.

Every speech Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif delivered during his trip to China centered on ironclad security commitments.

Under the CPEC initiative, launched in 2015 and described as revolutionary for Pakistan's economy, China has invested $25.4 billion in various transport, energy and infrastructure projects. Several other projects worth billions of dollars are in various stages of planning or execution. The CPEC initiative is also seen as a flagship project of China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, a vast network of roads, bridges and ports across nearly 100 countries that Beijing hopes will recreate ancient Silk Road trade routes connecting Europe and Asia.

The project has certainly helped Pakistan improve its power and transportation infrastructure. Based on the achievements of CPEC during its first phase, the second phase, primarily based on business-to-business cooperation, is expected to generate further economic dividends for Pakistan, in addition to translating these benefits into increased productivity, growth and higher exports thanks to Chinese investments in the country. manufacturing, agriculture and technology.

Despite the expressed desire by Chinese governments to further strengthen trade and investment cooperation with Pakistan, many analysts believe that Chinese investors remain reluctant to venture into Pakistan for various reasons, such as poor governance or formalities administrative.

The Chinese have long complained of being hampered by bureaucracy, and many are frustrated by the difficulties of getting things done here. Delays in paying the government's $1.8 billion in arrears to Chinese power producers are also deterring other companies from investing in Pakistan.

Moreover, the safety of Chinese workers in Pakistan remains the most pressing concern for Beijing amid increasing attacks on Chinese nationals and interests. The last two attacks happened in quick succession, one week between March 20 and 26 this year.

The first attack was carried out by an armed group in the new port of Gwadar. Then, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) fighters targeted Chinese engineers working on a Chinese-funded hydroelectric project near Besham and killed five Chinese workers and their Pakistani driver. Some reports suggest that Beijing has demanded a massive counterterrorism operation to eliminate threats to its interests.

Besham's attack triggered a harsh response from Beijing. China calls on Pakistan to thoroughly investigate the incident as soon as possible, track down the perpetrators and bring them to justice. At the same time, we request Pakistan to take effective measures to protect the safety and security of Chinese nationals, institutions and projects in Pakistan, the Foreign Ministry said on March 27, adding that no attempt to Sabotage of Sino-Pakistani cooperation will never succeed.

Chinese media quoted experts as saying that fighting terrorism and safeguarding the security of CPEC were the main objectives of Mr Sharif's visit. It is no wonder that every speech Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif delivered during his trip to China centered on ironclad security commitments.

While Mr. Sharif's visit will strengthen mutual trust between the two countries to address the challenges facing bilateral relations, expand cooperation models under the new security concept and provide strong support to CPEC, many are those who argue that Pakistan must moderate its inflated expectations of its country. all-weather friend.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, June 10, 2024

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