The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project under the “Belt and Road” initiative, is going full steam ahead. The corridor, opening a door to foreign investment in Pakistan, has brought Pakistan more development opportunities.
“In May this year, China will host in Beijing the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which aims to discuss ways to boost cooperation, build cooperation platforms and share cooperation outcomes, ” Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2017 in Davos, Switzerland.
Proposed by China in 2013, the “Belt and Road” initiative refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It is aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa.
Of the projects under the “Belt and Road” framework, the CPEC is regarded as a vanguard in China’s cooperation with countries along the routes.
The “Belt and Road” initiative is a “game changer” for Pakistan, former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said.
Key energy projects and infrastructure construction along the CPEC will serve as an important engine to drive Pakistan’s economic growth and bring more economic activities and opportunities to the country, he added.
Along the corridor, the Thakot-Havelian reconstruction project of the Karakoram Highway, the only overland channel connecting China and Pakistan, the construction of the Multan-Sukkur section of a motorway linking Peshawar and Karachi, as well as the Orange Line of the Lahore Metro, have already begun.
Meanwhile, 10 power plants with total installed capacity of 7,300 MW, including one in Sahiwal, have begun construction. Other projects include the Gwadar Port, as well as a 25-hectare free trade zone in adjacent areas of the port.
The CPEC has opened the doors to foreign investment in Pakistan, and its people will benefit from it, Chief Minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif said, recognizing the significant contributions the corridor will make to improve the local economy and improve people’s livelihood.
These infrastructure projects offer new opportunities for China’s machinery industry as well. Zhao Wei, an employee at Chinese heavy machinery manufacturer Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group, told People’s Daily that the company has sold nearly 400 devices in the country thanks to CPEC.
The company’s regional sales have grown to more than $43 million, Zhao added. He is currently stationed in Pakistan.
The “Belt and Road” initiative is a Chinese program to achieve inter-connectivity and common development among the countries along its route. As a flagship project of the initiative, CPEC has brought together the hearts of both peoples, setting a benchmark for cooperation among en-route countries.
Data shows that, so far, Chinese enterprises have invested more than $50 billion in countries along the “Belt and Road” routes. In the first three quarters of 2016, China-Pakistan trade reached over $14 billion, and the value of newly signed engineering contracts by Chinese enterprises in Pakistan has surpassed $7.1 billion.
By Xu Wei, Meng Xianglin and Zhang Mengxu from People’s Daily/NewsGhana.com.gh