Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng has termed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) an important project of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), saying that the multibillion-dollar project has significantly changed the lives of the people of Pakistan.
The Chinese vice premier, who arrived in Islamabad a day earlier on a three-day official visit to Pakistan, remarked this while addressing a ceremony held in the federal capital on Monday to celebrate the 10th anniversary of CPEC.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, ministers, members of the Chinese delegation, parliamentarians, chief ministers, senior officials and relevant authorities were also present on the occasion.
The Chinese vice PM said that CPEC is an example of mutual trust and common development between the two countries, adding that the project became a corridor of progress and prosperity, involving huge investment and creating immense job opportunities, with the completion of various key projects thus transforming the local economy.
Vice Premier He also said that CPEC was initiated under a principle of extensive cooperation for mutual interests, social and economic development of Pakistan through a network of regional connectivity.
He further said both countries are committed to high standards of CPEC projects in the second phase, adding that they would continue to work together.
Enumerating different projects being initiated and completed under CPEC, he said that cooperation would further continue in IT, agriculture, training and special zones ventures.
The Chinese vice premier said that CPEC had “significantly changed lives of the ordinary people of Pakistan and proved as a win-win cooperation and become a corridor of friendship, bringing our people closer”.
He observed that even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the workers had ensured smooth progress of the different projects, writing stories of mutual trust and cooperation that transformed the vision into reality.
He also reiterated Chinese support for peace, stability and national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan, its social and economic stability to build a better future.
CPEC had a new engine of growth and was further deepening the relationship between the leadership and people of the two countries, he added.
‘CPEC to turn around Pakistan economy’
Addressing the ceremony, PM Shehbaz said the two countries are entering the second phase of CPEC which would help promote investment, progress and prosperity not only for Pakistan but also for the entire region.
The second phase, he also said, would focus on high-quality development, envisaging a growth corridor, with the completion of special economic zones, industrial and green corridors, and openness and connectivity.
He hoped that this corridor of “North and South” would expand to include the entire region and different parts of the world.
The prime minister said that CPEC is going to turn around Pakistan’s economy through multiple programmes and initiatives.
He also expressed gratitude to the Chinese leadership for supporting Pakistan at the critical juncture with financial support and thanked the Chinese bank and their commercial banks for their loans roll over in the last few months.
“But we have to move away from these borrowed loans and aids and have to stand on our feet to show to the world that our people are great, energetic and capable of facing the difficult challenges,” he stressed.
The prime minister also thanked the Chinese leadership and other friendly nations for their support during the negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which he termed as one of the challenges faced by Pakistan.
The prime minister said it also provided them an opportunity “of introspection and moment to carve out a way forward,” and to emulate the Chinese model of development.
He underlined that Pakistan needed Chinese expertise and to learn from their experiences as taking 800 million people out of poverty in just three and half decades was a miracle which had never happened in the world.
It was possible only through the visionary leadership, hard work and journey of sweating blood by the Chinese leadership and the people, the PM added.
Premier Shehbaz said during their meeting today, they had announced joint working groups to further boost their cooperation in diverse fields for the mutual benefit of the ‘Iron brothers’.
He said there is complete unanimity among the 220 million people of Pakistan and its entire political and military leadership that China is a sincere friend.
“Pakistan soon, one day, will stand on its feet and we will generate our own resources, eliminate poverty and provide jobs as China did.”
Hilal-e-Pakistan conferred upon Chinese vice PM
Earlier, President Dr Arif Alvi conferred the Hilal-e-Pakistan award on the Chinese vice premier in recognition of his contribution to the Pakistan-China friendship and promotion of the CPEC.
The award was conferred at a special investiture ceremony held at the Aiwan-e-Sadr and attended by PM Shehbaz, services chiefs, National Assembly speaker, Senate chairman, federal ministers and parliamentarians.
Separately, Chinese Vice Premier He also met army chief General Asim Munir and discussed matters of mutual interest and defence cooperation, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.
“Both reiterated the desire to further enhance and strengthen bilateral relations in all fields,” it added.