The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an unprecedented framework that boasts dozens of major projects and billions of dollars in investments, and will create tens of thousands of jobs here, Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong said Thursday.
Speaking to Xinhua in an interview, Sun said though it has only been less than three years since the two countries inked the CPEC agreement, the Pakistani people are already benefitting from the "early harvests" yielded by the initiative.
The foremost projects are almost all power plants designed to tackle Pakistan's dire shortage of electricity.
Of the 16 power plants under construction, fossil fuel, wind and solar power plants are expected to be completed by the end of 2018 and the hydro electrical plant two years later, Sun said.
Once operational, the power stations will generate more than 10 million kW of electricity, lighting up 7 million homes and allowing the upgrade of the country's manufacturing and industrial sectors, he added.
The CPEC also consists of other infrastructure projects including the partial renovation of the Karakorum highway, part of the Lahore-Karachi highway and the Lahore municipal light rail, Sun said.
The Gwadar Port on the Indian Ocean, which Pakistan hopes to develop in order to complement its busy Karachi port, also has the support of China, which has promised to build schools, hospitals in the vicinity and roads and airports to connect the isolated town with the outside.
"As of March, ongoing CPEC projects have employed more than 6,000 Pakistanis," Sun said, adding that construction jobs can easily hit 10,000 as more infrastructure projects are launched.
According to the CPEC blueprint, industrial parks are the next on the agenda after infrastructure, which are believed to attract Chinese companies to set up labor-intensive plants in Pakistan that could potentially create tens of thousands of jobs.
Despite the optimistic outlook, Sun said the CPEC isn't all smooth sailing, as bumps along the way may slow down its progress. Sun said differences between China and Pakistan are the biggest obstacles.
"The states of the two sides are different, so are the political systems and cultures. The mechanism to push forward the CPEC also needs tweaking."
To bridge the differences, the Chinese companies were advised to employ more locals that truly understand the Pakistani society, Sun said.
Another major concern is security, Sun said, stressing that though an improvement in security has been observed, Chinese corporations still face high risks in operating in certain parts of the country.
In this regard, Sun said he appreciated the commitment of the Pakistani government and military to establish a special force tasked specifically with safeguarding CPEC projects.