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‘Renewed pledge’: China, Pakistan agree to accelerate CPEC

F.P. Report

BEIJING: China and Pakistan on Monday reaffirmed their resolve to strengthen bilateral ties in all field and China will continue its support to Pakistan, while both countries agreed to accelerate China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Pakistan was mainly aimed to renew friendship, promote mutually beneficial cooperation in various areas and elevate the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic cooperative partnership to a new high.

His visit was mainly aimed at exchanging views with the new government and compare notes with Pakistan on cooperation in all areas, thus making “our bilateral cooperation to get off under the new circumstances”, the Chinese spokesman said.

Asked whether any new economic package by China has been discussed as Pakistan is currently facing serious economic crisis, he said the two sides have agreed to jointly promote the construction and expansion of CPEC.

“The two sides will advance the CPEC in the light of Pakistan’s economic and social development and people’s needs. We will identify the pathways and cooperation for the CPEC.

“We will accelerate the industrial cooperation and the projects of the people’s livelihoods and extend the CPEC to the western area and make the people gets benefits from it,” Geng said.

During his visit to Pakistan, the Chinese Foreign Minister had said there were currently 22 cooperation projects in Pakistan within the framework of the CPEC of which nine have been completed and thirteen are under construction.

Geng said close ties between Islamabad and Beijing will not target a third party nor it will be influenced by the development of foreign relations with other countries.

“Politically they will further enhance political mutual trust, strategic communication and firmly support each other’s core interests and mutual concerns. They will have closer communication and coordination on issues of common interest,” he said.

He further said the new Pakistani government has repeatedly stressed to continue relations with China as the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy. “China has also continued to place Pakistan in the priority position of China’s foreign policy and neighbouring diplomacy,” he added.

He further said that China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners, and the friendship between China and Pakistan is not only reflected in the political field but also in economic cooperation.

Earlier, Prime Minister’s Adviser on Commerce and Industry Abdul Razzak Dawood contradicted a report published in international economic magazine Financial Times regarding CPEC.

He maintained that there are some misconceptions regarding his interview with Financial Times and issued a clarification saying Pakistan rejects the article “especially its title”.

It says that the article was based on statement “taken out of context” and reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to CPEC.

“The statements attributed to Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Textile have been taken out of context and distorted. Pakistan-China relations are impregnable and the Government’s commitment to CPEC is unwavering,” reads the statement.

The financial magazine, while claiming that Pakistan is mulling over reviewing CPEC terms, quotes him as saying that the previous government did a bad job negotiating with China on CPEC and “gave away a lot”.

The report also says that several other officials and advisers to PM Imran Khan government suggested extending the terms of CPEC loans and spreading projects out over a longer time frame.

In April 2015, China had announced mega development projects in Pakistan worth $46-billion under CPEC project, which focuses on road building and energy infrastructure to end chronic power shortages in Pakistan and to link China’s landlocked north-west with the deep-water port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea.

The plan, which would eclipse U.S. spending in Pakistan over the last decade or so, is part of China’s aim to forge “Silk Road” land and sea ties to markets in the Middle East and Europe.

The two sides had also agreed to strengthen cooperation in civil nuclear energy, space and maritime technology, counter-terrorism and defense.

Meanwhile China will also expand industrial capacity cooperation in diverse sectors including chemical, pharmaceutical, engineering, agro, iron and steel. The two countries will also increase exploration and development of resources.

Under CPEC, a number of new economic zones will be created along the corridor.

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