ISLAMABAD-The Chinese government has offered 20,000 scholarships for Pakistani students to avail chances of higher education besides financing to build 1,000 small schools in different areas of the country, said Minister for Planning on Monday.

Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar was addressing the 3rd annual two-day conference on CPEC consortium of universities here.

Yao Jing, Ambassador of China to Pakistan, Lt Gen (R) Muhammad Asghar, Consultant CPEC, HEC, Mr. Guan Peijun, Vice President, Chinese Association of Higher Education, and Dr. Moeed Yousuf, Chairman, Strategic Policy Planning Cell also attended the ceremony.

The minister said that in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s (CPEC) next phase, the industrial base of the country would be expanded which would help in increasing the country’s exports.

He said that China has total trade volume worth $4000 billion with the world; however Pakistan has only $80 billion of trade with global market.

“Chinese government is investing $1 billion in socio- economic sector in two years including cooperation in higher education,” he said.

Bukhtyar hoped that the collaboration under the banner of CPEC Consortium of Universities would broaden the scope of bilateral relations between Pakistan and China. He said the academic community’s role through the Consortium would pave the way for economic growth as all this coincides with the 4th industrial revolution.

The Minister urged the universities to carry out diagnostic studies of all crucial sectors, as it would unleash the potential areas in which Pakistan needs to conduct research and come up with sustainable solutions.

The CPEC Consortium of Universities was founded in Islamabad in August 2017 as “CPEC Consortium of Business Schools” to promote business-to-business linkages between China and Pakistan and help study relocation of Chinese businesses in the planned industrial parks in Pakistan under CPEC. In his address, the Chinese Ambassador said that Pakistan and China enjoy cordial relations. He added that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects, including the CPEC Consortium of Universities, are recent manifestations of strong bilateral relations. He said the Consortium is a vital platform to connect people of both the countries.

In his remarks, Dr. Moeed Yusuf said it is the age of global connectivity, in which the Consortium of Universities will play its important role in execution of CPEC and the Road and Belt initiatives.

Earlier, in his welcome address, Lt. Gen. (R) Muhammad Asghar said the conference will help promote people-to-people contacts.

He emphasised that Pakistan needs to learn from China as to how it lifted its population from poverty.

He noted that economic supremacy of China is due to its technological advancement, as it has excelled in 5G, Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology, Quantum Computing, and other technological spheres.

As many as 28,000 Pakistani students are currently studying in Chinese institutions.

He said the CPEC Consortium of Universities is a common platform of Pakistan and China to collaborate in a large number of areas focused on socio-economic development.

He said that various sessions of the conference will review progress of academic collaborations among partner institutions, identify new areas of cooperation for development of human resource, seek ways to expand academic linkages among the universities of the two countries, promote harmony and invigorate people-to-people contacts, explore joint research projects and areas of convergence, plan joint conferences, seminars and workshops, strive for internationalisation of higher education, and support historic transition under CPEC.