World Neighbours 26 Jun 2016 China-Pakistan corri ...

China-Pakistan corridor on track, says Chinese diplomat

Published Jun 26, 2016, 10:31 am IST
Updated Jun 26, 2016, 10:31 am IST
A view of Gwadar Port — a deep-sea port developed jointly by the Pakistan and China — which is the key to the trade portion of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. (Photo: AP)
 A view of Gwadar Port — a deep-sea port developed jointly by the Pakistan and China — which is the key to the trade portion of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor. (Photo: AP)

Beijing: The USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which passes through Pakistan occupied Kashmir has made progress and benefited local people, the Chinese envoy to Pakistan has said amid reports that opposition to the ambitious project is intensifying both at home and abroad.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a major pilot project under Silk Road Initiative, is going well and the completed part is bringing tangible benefits to local people, China's ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong told state-run Xinhua news agency.

Sun's comments came after commentaries in Chinese official media recently that opposition is intensifying to the project.

"Pakistan's Sindh Province saw a bomb attack against Chinese engineers and small-scale protests against the CPEC recently," an article in the state-run Global Times on June 13 said.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani government claimed that anti-CPEC activities by foreign forces have been busted in Baluch Province, where the project links up with Baluchistan port, it said.

"CPEC is seeing intensifying opposition from both home and abroad, which, on the other hand, shows that its construction has achieved major progress that gets on the nerves of opposition groups," it said.

Sun, who is China's senior diplomat in South Asian affairs , said the Pakistan government, the parliament, military, media and think tanks were all paying "close attention" to the progress of CPEC and "offering their full support".

The CPEC, which highlights energy, transport, the Gwadar port and industrial cooperation at the current stage, has formed the "1+4" layout, and will seek to expand cooperation to such sectors as finance, science and technology, education, poverty alleviation and urban planning.

"The CPEC is a mutually-beneficial and win-win cooperation, which will contribute to the prosperity and development of China, Pakistan and the region and the building of a community of shared destiny between the two countries," Sun said.

"We will fully implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of China and Pakistan, and push forward the construction of CPEC to benefit the Chinese and Pakistani peoples," Sun added.

The 3000 km long CEPC, which is part of China's Silk Road project, officially called Belt and Road is aimed at connecting the two countries with rail, road, pipelines and optical cable fiber network.

It connects China's Xinjiang province with Pakistan Gwadar port, providing access to China to Arabian Sea.

The project when it is completed would enable China to pump its oil supplies from the middle east through the pipelines to Xinjiang cutting considerable distance for Chinese ships to travel to China.

India has already protested to China over the project as it passes through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Pakistan officials said the project kicked off by President Xi Jinping last year is estimated to cost USD 46 billion.

China, however, has not officially disclosed the estimated cost.

It was expected to firm up the all weather ties between the two countries.

Highlighting the progress of the corridor, Sun said the two countries have launched a host of early harvest projects focusing on energy and transport infrastructure to meet Pakistan's immediate needs.

In the energy sector, 16 projects have been sorted out to be implemented first, which can generate 10.4 million kilowatts of electricity in total, Sun said, adding that half of the projects have been under construction and will help Pakistan ease its power shortages.

A solar power plant in the city of Bahawalpur, built by the Chinese company ZTE Energy, has recently installed a 300-megawatt generator unit, which can produce 480 million kWh annually, enough to satisfy the daily power consumption of at least 200,000 Pakistani families, Sun said.

Regarding transportation, phase II of the Karakorum highway, the Multan-Sukkur section of the Lahore-Karachi highway and the Pakistan portion of a cross-border optical cable project are already underway, Sun said.

As the largest transportation project under the CPEC, the 392 km-long Multan-Sukkur stretch is expected to create nearly 10,000 jobs at the peak of its construction, he added.

Quoting "incomplete statistics" Sun said, the CPEC projects under construction have employed more than 6,000 Pakistani workers by the end of March.

Furthermore, Chinese companies participating in CPEC helped residents in remote areas of Pakistan gain access to clean water, electricity and better transportation, Xinhua report said.

China's Three Gorges Corporation and Tebian Electric Apparatus have provided generators, solar lights and water purification units to residents in remote regions while China Road and Bridge Corporation has repeatedly helped locals build makeshift bridges and water ducts and taken part in rescue and relief operations, it said.

The China Development Bank, Huawei, China State Construction Engineering Corporation, as well as other Chinese entities, have also sponsored Pakistanis to receive further education in China, donated school buses to Gwadar and set up education funds, which have received wide praise from the local population, it said.



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