BRI conference seeks greater regional connectivity, rejects notion of ‘New Cold War’

ISLAMABAD-An international conference on Wednesday rejected targeting of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on geopolitical grounds, the notion of “New Cold War,” and stigmatising any country using COVID-19 as a “political weapon.”
It also lauded China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project while seeking greater regional connectivity and called for food and medicine security.
Pakistan-China Institute (PCI) convened the first ever non-governmental online conference on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), of which CPEC is the flagship. Participants from eight countries attended the moot, said a statement issued by the institute, adding that they were from China, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
As many five key consensus areas regarding BRI emerged from the conference. The participants agreed that the coronavirus crisis has underlined the need for global interdependence to forge closer cooperation to tackle common challenges.
The moot underscored that BRI is the way forward as it promotes regional connectivity, based on the “principles of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit while acclaiming CPEC as BRI success story.”
The conference rejected the propaganda about the “so called debt trap” as in the case of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, saying total debt from China is a very small percentage of what is owed to other countries or multilateral institutions.
It also rejected “New Cold War demonisation or stigmatising any country using COVID-19 as a political weapon or targeting BRI on geopolitical grounds.”
The countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka  recognised the India factor saying they are neighbours and they would like good relations with both China and India and it was made clear that neither BRI is a “military alliance nor it is directed either against India or against any western country.”
Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, in his opening remarks, termed BRI as the biggest and most significant diplomatic and developmental initiative of 21st century. He said that CPEC, as flagship of BRI, was already a success story and has entered its second phase successfully. “Energy and infrastructure projects have been completed on schedule, 75,000 Pakistanis got jobs in BRI projects and 28,000 Pakistani students are studying in China.”
He also thanked China for support to Pakistan during COVID-19 crisis and he mentioned the two resolutions passed by Pakistan’s Senate, on February 12 and May 14 this year consecutively, in which the Parliament appreciated China’s role and support.

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