Chinese Ambassador denies any slowdown in CPEC projects

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing on Sunday categorically ruled out a slowdown in the projects falling under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor agreement. 

“There is no slowdown of CPEC as its foundation is solid and direction is set for the beginning of a new stage of CPEC,” Jing stated in his address at the Friends of Silk Road seminar organised by Pak-China Institute. 

Federal Minister for Planning Development and Reform Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar was the guest of honour of the seminar, which was packed to capacity with a diverse and distinguished gathering. 

These included scholars, students, intellectuals, former diplomats, parliamentarians, business leaders, lawyers, civil society and representatives of Chinese companies. 

Ambassador Yao Jing said that in this new stage of CPEC, the Chinese government was working very closely with Pakistan government and had identified three key areas to promote CPEC. 

“These include Special Economic Zones with focus on Rashakai and preference will be given to private sector, agriculture and a special agricultural expo will be organised later in October in Islamabad and Lahore, with a focus on fisheries,” he said. 

The third area is social sector development where 27 projects in six areas are being fast tracked, courtesy the grant of $1 billion by the Chinese government. The Chinese ambassador emphasised that “CPEC is running according to our satisfaction and there is no slowdown in CPEC”.

Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar announced that government has decided to go ahead with ML-1 mega project for Pakistan Railways which will lead to dualisation and upgradation of railway tracks from Peshawar to Karachi, the biggest modernisation of Pakistan Railways since independence.

He also said that CPEC is also above any political divide and there is national consensus on CPEC and eventually 80% of electricity will be generated by CPEC energy projects.

He also announced that legal framework of Gwadar Free Trade Zone is ready. Pakistan-China Business Council is being established and, to top it all, an apex body, CPEC Authority, is being established “to push CPEC forward”.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed in his introductory speech said that CPEC is a success story because of the strong and unshakeable framework of Pakistan-China relations. Recounting the benefits of CPEC, Mushahid Hussain said that CPEC has given a new hope and confidence to the people of Pakistan and improved the image of Pakistan as investment friendly destination, revived dead projects like Gwadar port and Thar Coal Project, strengthened the Federation through physical connectivity, given Pakistan strategic space both in regional and world politics and provided employment to 70,000 Pakistanis plus 20,000 new scholarships for Pakistani students are in offing for the next three years.

He thanked China for supporting Kashmir at United Nations and he said, Pakistan too supports China fully on the issue of Hong Kong and rejects foreign interference as Hong Kong is an internal matter of China, pertaining to its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

He said the CPEC, like Kashmir and the nuclear programme, enjoys national consensus above party lines. Presentations were made by Hassan Daud, Chief Executive Officer, Board of Investment KPK, Ms. Farheena Mazhar, Executive Director General, Board of Investment, Lv Yan, Deputy General Manager China Road and Bridge Construction Company (CRBC), Masood Khalid, former ambassador to China and a girl student from Faqeer School, Gwadar also gave presentation on China’s support for girls education in Gwadar.

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