Since the outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia in Pakistan, some media organizations have been spreading rumors that the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is seriously affected.
Prior to this, some US officials claimed that CPEC is a "debt trap", in an attempt to undermine the construction of the corridor. At the same time, it was reported that a regional force is carrying out destructive activities against the corridor through a "proxy war". All these show that some international forces do not want to see CPEC succeed, or they do not want to see Pakistan move towards stability, development and prosperity.
CPEC development not affected by COVID-19
The CPEC is a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Frankly, when the pandemic began to spread in Pakistan, all parties were very much concerned about work continuing on CPEC. But both China and Pakistan overcame the difficulties brought about by the pandemic and continued to promote CPEC development. Therefore, while fighting COVID-19 together, the Chinese and Pakistani governments are attaching great importance to the continuous construction of CPEC projects.
The relevant departments of the Chinese and Pakistani governments have maintained close communication and coordination on specific issues in the corridor. The Chinese enterprises attach great importance to pandemic prevention at the project sites, and implement close-off management internally. Therefore, the invasion of the novel coronavirus has been effectively prevented.
Medical teams have been dispatched to the project sites. All corridor projects have formulated prevention and control plans and implemented them in strict accordance with the plans. In addition, the Chinese enterprises participating in CPEC construction donate medical material and help local people fight COVID-19.
Great success in CPEC construction
So far, CPEC construction has achieved remarkable success. It is mainly manifested in three aspects:-
First, the governments and enterprises of both China and Pakistan are very satisfied with the progress, which shows that cooperation between the two sides is good and the corridor construction is progressing well.
Second, Prime Minister Imran Khan said recently that the corridor is a declaration of friendship between China and Pakistan and an excellent project for Pakistan's economic and social development. Pakistan should complete the corridor construction at all costs. In the past, there were different voices in Pakistan on the construction of the corridor. Now, the federal government, local governments, political parties and the public, all speak with one voice. They highly appreciate the great achievements of the corridor.
Third, the construction of corridor projects is progressing well. In the first phase, 90% of the 22 major projects had been completed and put into operation, and the rest will be completed in a few months. The second phase of construction has already started.
The construction of special economic zones is a catalyst for Pakistan's industrialization, which is promoting the transfer of China's manufacturing industry to Pakistan and pushing Pakistan's development into a fast track.
CPEC construction continues to advance
Recently, Asim Saleem Bajwa, Chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority said that the construction of CPEC is accelerating, and the second phase of the construction has started. The Pakistan government has recently approved the upgrading and reconstruction of the 1726 km long ML-1 trunk railway under the CPEC framework. This is exciting news. The development of the 7.2billion US dollar project is of great strategic significance for Pakistan's national transportation and economic development.
After this project is completed, the new railway system will play an important role in the transportation of goods and passengers. Highway transportation is not only highly costly but is also time-consuming. Railways will promote social and economic development in a more cost-effective and efficient way. Economic activities, especially agricultural development in remote areas will be fostered. At present, the channels for agricultural products to enter the big cities are limited and therefore reasonable prices cannot be obtained. With the upgrading of the railway, farmers will get greater economic benefits.
Progress has been made in the construction of Gwadar Port. Recently, a ship carrying 16,400 tons of fertilizer arrived at the Port. The fertilizer was purchased by Afghanistan from Australia and unloaded at Gwadar Port and transported by road to Afghanistan according to the Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement. This is the first time that the Afghan government has used Gwadar Port to import an important material.
The Gwadar Port will not only promote the economic development of the poor and backward Balochistan Province but the whole of Pakistan. It will be the nearest sea port for Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and other Central Asian land-locked countries. It will connect these countries with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Oman, UAE, Iran and Iraq, and even with China's Xinjiang and western provinces. It will become a transit port for regional transshipment, storage and transportation.
On June 5, the signing ceremony of the tripartite agreement for the Kohala hydropower project was held at the Pakistan Prime minister's office. Prime Minister Imran Khan, leader of Azad Kashmir and Chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority attended the ceremony.
The Kohala hydropower project, with an investment of 2.5 billion US dollars, will be the largest independent power generation project in Pakistan. Prime Minister Khan said that attracting foreign investment and developing hydropower projects are of great importance to Pakistan's economic development. The construction of Kohala hydropower station is a major development in the relations between China and Pakistan, as it will provide cheap power and create employment opportunities for Pakistan.
The Kohala hydropower project will be constructed and funded by the China Three Gorges Group. In view of the power shortage in Pakistan and people's dissatisfaction with the high price of electricity, the Kohala hydropower station will become a local livelihood project. Its unit price is low compared to thermal power projects. It will be environment-friendly too.
Experts predict that after the completion of its construction, CPEC will contribute 21% to Pakistan's GDP growth, and promote the industrial growth of Pakistan by 58%. Its tax contribution to Pakistan will be hundreds of billions of US dollars.
Source: South Asian Monitor 2020/07/23