Sindhsamaachar Monitoring Desk
Beijing: Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on Friday, called for greater attention to tackling climate change and poverty as Pakistan and China enter the next phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The prime minister appreciated the significance of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), saying it “marks a new and distinct phase in the onward march of nations in the world along the path of globalization”. “The presence of so many world leaders today is proof that we choose hope over despair and cooperation over confrontation. 122 states and 49 international organizations have signed onto the BRI’s vision and this is a historic and monumental development,” he pointed out. “The BRI offers a model of partnership, collaboration, connectivity, and shared prosperity,” the prime minister told the audience. “Pakistan is proud to have partnered with China in this transformative endeavor. We have been among BRI’s earliest and most enthusiastic proponents,” he said.
“The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, one of the BRI’s major components ─ and one of its earliest manifestations ─ has made substantial progress. Pakistan’s energy supplies have increased massively, critical infrastructure gaps are being plugged, Gwadar ─ once a small fishing village ─ is transforming rapidly into a commercial hub. Gwadar airport will be the largest in our country,” he told his audience. He informed the audience that special economic zones being set up along the CPEC offer investment opportunities for Pakistani, Chinese and foreign entrepreneurs, and invited interested parties to “avail Pakistan’s liberal foreign investment regime and participate in our economy; in particular infrastructure, railways, dams, IT and manufacturing.” “Together, Pakistan and China are entering the next phase of CPEC, with greater emphasis on socioeconomic uplift,” he said, adding that the next phase would be “supplemented” by the signing of an expanded Pakistan-China Free Trade Agreement.
He added that Pakistan wants to promote cooperation with China in agriculture, health, and education, and called for joint efforts towards addressing impediments on the way to sustainable growth. The prime minister said that Pakistan and China are entering the next phase of CPEC and are focusing on socio-economic uplift, poverty alleviation, agricultural cooperation, and industrial development. “We are changing Pakistan’s economic landscape and, God willing, the destiny of our people. I want to thank China and its leadership for their unwavering support for Pakistan,” he said. Prime Minister Imran suggested that, as the BRI takes on a more concrete shape, world leaders direct their efforts and focus onto the people of their countries by addressing impediments in the path towards sustainable growth.