Adviser believes CPEC’s spirit cooperation, not confrontation; collaboration and not competition
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), by linking China with the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, will optimise trade potential and enhance energy security of Pakistan, China, and the wider region, directly benefiting some three billion people in China, South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.
Speaking at a seminar on the corridor of prosperity through education and business here at the National University of Modern Languages (NUML) on Wednesday, Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that the One Belt One Road was a visionary concept, which had proposed creating Silk Road economic belt and maritime silk road, with focus on connectivity of infrastructure including roads, rail links, sea routes, ports, and connectivity of policy, trade and finance.
He said that the regional connectivity for economic prosperity was an important pillar of Pakistan’s foreign policy and the present government was earnestly implementing various trans-regional connectivity projects linking the country with energy-rich Central Asia and the Middle East and economically promising China and the Far East.
He said that the CPEC was a vital bridge that connected the Road and the Belt. “It is located at crossroads of Central Asia, the Middle East and South Asia,” he said, adding that Gwadar seaport on northern Arabian Sea near Persian Gulf was at the confluence of both the Road and the Belt. Amongst all these projects, he said the CPEC held a special significance, as it was a flagship project of China’s OBOR initiative.
He emphasised that the CPEC should not be viewed in the prism of regional power dynamics, old style alliance formation or zero-sum relationship between different countries. Its spirit was cooperation and not confrontation; collaboration and not competition, he added. “It is a win-win project for everybody in the region and beyond,” he said.
He also said that CPEC contributes towards a regional and an international order based on shared prosperity, mutual benefits and economic convergence. Sartaj said that the CPEC was also a catalyst for regional economic integration. “It will foster regional harmony and forge closer relations among Pakistan, China and our neighbours,” he added.
He termed the CPEC a recipe for alleviating poverty for millions of people by providing alternate livelihoods. The corridor could also act as a bulwark against forces of terrorism and violent extremism — by engaging local youth in meaningful employment and presenting them with new economic opportunities, he said, adding that it would promote regional stability in the region and bring prosperity.
He said the CPEC would tap Pakistan’s enormous natural and human resources, address acute energy shortfalls, modernize Pakistan’s transport infrastructure to contemporary requirements, inject a strong impulse for national economic development and help in building a knowledge-based, egalitarian society, in line with aspirations of founding father Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
He said that the CPEC would lead to human development in Pakistan by improving economic, industrial, infrastructural and financing activities, which was a key factor in progress and prosperity. Pakistan and China were already cooperating in the field of education through scholarships and exchanges of academicians, scholars, think tanks, journalists and media persons. Such exchange was going to enhance CPEC’s motives, he opined.
The adviser said that the successful implementation of various CPEC projects would also entail market improvement in national production capability and business environment. The key sectors, including energy, finance, food, agro-based industry, livestock, construction, steel, transport and logistics, light engineering, plastics, value-added textile, mining and ore, assembly operations, tourism and IT services could flourish under the CPEC, he said.
Appreciating the NUML, he said it had over the years built bridges between Pakistan and the outside world, by imparting high quality education in foreign languages. He said the NUML’s Chinese language department was also reputed for its learned faculty from China, placed here through a robust exchange programme of teachers, and for its able graduates produced each year.
Therefore, the university was well positioned to provide its academic inputs on all aspects of Pakistan-China bilateral relations, particularly China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he added. “I hope the academic communities of the two countries will keep taking interest in CPEC to improve our perspectives and enrich the discourse on this important initiative,” he said.
Among others, the event was also addressed by NUML Rector Ziauddin Najam, Zhao Lijun, Dr Mujeeb Afzal, Dr Sufiana Khatoon Malik, while deans, directors, heads of departments and a large number of students also attended the conference. Chinese scholar Dr Ma Yinuer, Russian scholar Dr Sergey Kamenev and Malaysian scholar Dato Husan were among eight other scholars who presented their papers during the first day of the conference