ISLAMABAD - China has told Pakistan Beijing does not take India’s concerns over the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project seriously, The Nation learnt.

This month, India raised its concern with China over the CPEC. In the bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the G20 summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the CPEC was being laid through ‘disputed’ Azad Jammu Kashmir. He said China and India need to be ‘sensitive’ to each other's strategic interests.

Besides a host of energy-related projects, the CPEC consists of rail, roads and pipelines to ferry oil and gas from Gwadar Port to Kashghar in Xinjiang.

A senior official at the foreign ministry said Beijing had told Islamabad India’s concerns do not matter too much and the CPEC was as important for China as it was for Pakistan.

“No need to worry over India’s protests. CPEC is an important project for both of us and will continue as it is,” the official quoted Chinese counterparts as telling Islamabad.

“China is optimistic to complete the CPEC for the larger interest of both the countries and the region,” he added.

Since establishing diplomatic ties in 1951, China and Pakistan have enjoyed a close and mutually beneficial relationship. Pakistan was one of the first countries to recognize the People's Republic of China in 1950 and remained a steadfast ally during Beijing's period of international isolation in the 1960s and early 1970s.

China has long provided Pakistan with major military, technical and economic assistance, including the transfer of sensitive nuclear technology and equipment.

Experts predict growing relations between the United States and rival India will ultimately prompt Pakistan to push for even closer ties with its longtime strategic security partner, China.

India has long been perturbed by China's military aid to Pakistan. China and India fought a border war in 1962, and both still claim the other is occupying large portions of their territory.

China’s role as a major arms supplier for Pakistan began in the 1960s and included assistance in building a number of arms factories in Pakistan and supplying complete weapons systems.

Since the late 1990s, economic concerns have gained prominence alongside the military-strategic aspect of the relationship - specifically, trade and energy have taken precedence.

Over the years, frequent exchanges of high-level visits and contacts between the two countries have led to a number of bilateral trade agreements and investment commitments.

Trade relations began shortly after the establishment of diplomatic ties in the early 1950s, and the two countries signed their first formal trade agreement in 1963.

A comprehensive free trade agreement was signed in 2008, giving each country unprecedented market access to the other. Trade between Islamabad and Beijing now hovers around $ 7billion a year and both sides are set on raising the figure to $ 15 billion in future.

The two countries have cooperated on a variety of large-scale infrastructure projects in Pakistan including highways, gold and copper mines, major electricity complexes and power plants, and numerous nuclear power projects.

With roughly 10000 Chinese workers engaged in 120 projects in Pakistan, total Chinese investment - which includes heavy engineering, power generation, mining, and telecommunications - was valued at $ 4 billion in 2007 and is expected to rise to $ 15 billion in coming years.

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One of the most significant joint development projects of recent years is the major port complex at the naval base of Gwadar, located in Balochistan.

The complex, inaugurated in December 2008 and now fully operational, provides a deep-sea port, warehouses and industrial facilities for more than 20 countries. China provided much of the technical assistance and 80 percent of the funds for the construction of the port.

Another official at the foreign ministry said Beijing had asked Islamabad to settle differences among the provinces over the CPEC project.

“We have told them there are no any differences and all parties are on the same page,” he contended.

Analyst Dr Shahid Hassan Siddiqui said CPEC would be a game-changer and bring an economic revolution in the country and the region.

He said the unemployment from country will be greatly reduced through this mega project.

Hassan said the trade of Pakistan would definitely improve with other countries after Gwadar Port becomes functional. It will be the busiest port in the world.

He said some anti-Pakistan elements have been trying to sabotage the project but they will never succeed in their nefarious designs.

Treasury Senator Mohammed Javed Abbasi said CPEC will play the vital role to get rid of loadshedding menace.

He said China was an all weather friend and will never be influenced by India’s illogical claims.