Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, December 10th, 2018

CPEC emerging as a connectivity plug

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CPEC emerging as a connectivity plug

The announcement by China and Pakistan for inclusion of Afghanistan into China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) the flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has signaled that Chinese connectivity initiative will finally connect the disconnected South Asian, East Asian and Central Asian regions.
The announcement came out following a recent successful visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to China where both countries adopted such strategic measures which will broaden the scope of CPEC.
While addressing to a trilateral dialogue between China, Pakistan and Afghanistan recently, Chinese ambassador Yao Jing urged Afghanistan to join the Belt & Road Initiative as well as the CPEC.
Addressing the opening session of the 4th Trilateral Dialogue between China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Chinese envoy said, “Kabul can also act as a bridge to help expand connectivity between East, South and Central Asian regions.”
The new government of Pakistan established following the general elections held on July 25 has also formally invited Afghanistan to become a part of a great economic package.
It seems that Pakistan and China unanimously have adopted the same policy to expand scope of CPEC in the region for attaining greater prosperity and to develop a peace in war torn Afghanistan
The significant strategic decision really opened the pathways for the international community to be a part of development scheme which on one side will connect China and South Asia with Middle East and Africa while on the other side it is aimed to connect with Central Asia, East Asia and West Asia.
These announcements show the strategic dynamics of CPEC is emerging as a connectivity plug between different regions. The corridor stepping up as an engine for economic and trade integration between China, Pakistan and Afghanistan and beyond that towards Central Asian region, Middle East and Africa.
By opening the doors for other countries, both states have shown to the world that the project is getting ahead on a fast track for smooth execution and now it will be transformed into a multilateral initiative.
The commitment of both nations has also dispelled the baseless rumors of western media about the suspension of CPEC projects for one year and the Chinese debt trap.
The broadening of CPEC projects by enhancing the scope is changing the geopolitics of South Asia which will establish conducive peaceful environment for the region.
The extension of CPEC shows the intensions of China and Pakistan that both states wish peaceful and stable environment in its neighborhood.
This step will deepen the geo strategic relationship between China, Pakistan and Afghanistan and it will also help in increasing the trust for tackling challenges attached to the long lasting peace for the region.
The strategy has attracted the attention of international community that these efforts are aimed to overcome all the hurdles in restoring peace and stability in region as well as in Afghanistan
Invitation for Afghanistan to become a part of CPEC is a clear message for other countries that it is an open and transparent initiative which is restructuring the outdated and obsolete infrastructure in Pakistan alongside building the gigantic power projects helpful in tackling worst energy crisis of the country.
The Sino-Pakistan economic corridor worth of $60 billion whose construction is pushed forward by China is a “four in one” channel that covers road, railways, oil and gas pipelines and cables from China’s Xinjiang to Gwadar , a port in South Western Pakistan, and  a trade network that covers industrial parks , free trade zones and so on.
If Afghanistan realizes the docking with Sino-Pakistan economic corridor, it will win opportunities to develop its traffic and trade and strengthen the regional radio active role of Sino-Pakistan economic corridor, which will benefit the westward advance of the entire Silk Road economic belt. Afghanistan mainly relies on Pakistan’s port Karachi and Iran’s port Bandar Abbas for sea transportation.
After the construction of port Gwadar is completed, it will become the nearest port for Afghanistan.
The recent visit of PM Imran Khan to China had also drawn productive conclusions and deepened the all-weather strategic friendship.
Economically, it has been agreed mutually that the two sides will step up development cooperation with focus on people’s livelihood. China will give more assistance on a priority basis to such areas as agriculture, education, medical service and drinking water, delivering tangible benefits to more people.
The two sides will enhance the building of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and decide the future development path and the course for cooperation through negotiations in light of Pakistan’s next-stage socio-economic development priorities and the needs of its people.
China and Pakistan will prioritize the faster development of industrial cooperation and livelihood projects, gradually extend them to the western part of Pakistan and enable more Pakistanis to benefit from the CPEC.
The new interaction of both sides has re-energized the relationship between two states and helped them to introduce new schemes of social development in this economic package.
With the passage of the time, the relationship between two is transforming based on mutual and productive consultations yielding the results for the people on both sides.
Pakistan being a very close neighbor and strategic partner has been honored to take maximum benefits from BRI as CPEC carries the investment package of more than $ 60 billion.
By prioritizing CPEC projects in the national development strategy, Pakistan has already gained targets of socioeconomic and regional development under this unprecedented mega project. CPEC has pushed the economic growth of Pakistan to 2.5 % in the last three years which helped country’s’s growth rate to touch 5.8 percent in 2017-2018, the highest figure in the past 13 years.
During the first phase of the CPEC, more than 70,000 Pakistani citizens have secured jobs on various projects currently under construction, while it is predicted that around 2 million jobs will be created for locals by the end of 2030, which means locals will gain access to a major slice of the job market.
The CPEC after creating a significant impact for the revival of energy and development of infrastructure is now entering into the next phase of industrialization. Under the framework 9 industrial zones will be built and the Chinese companies will be allowed to develop high-tech industries which will not be affecting local industry. It will again be a great opportunity for Pakistani industries to learn from modern high-tech industries which are the future for the revival of sluggish economy.

Muhamamd Zamir Assadi is a Pakistani journalist graduated from Renmin University of China. He is also a media fellow of China South Asia South East Asia press centre.

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