by Zamir Ahmed Awan
The Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) was successfully held 25-27 April 2019, in Beijing, China. At the invitation of President Xi Jinping, 40 World-leaders and heads of international organizations including Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan attended the forum. The event was also attended by more than 6,000 representatives from 150 countries and 92 international organizations. The participants exchanged in-depth views under the theme “Belt and Road Cooperation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future”, reached extensive consensus on promoting high-quality Belt and Road cooperation with refined principles, reassured priorities and stronger mechanisms.
It was one of the biggest diplomatic event of the year in China, but the importance was global. As the decision based on consensus will reshape the world trade, economy, politics and international relations, globally. This year’s Forum sends a clear message: more and more friends and partners are joining in Belt and Road cooperation out of their will, and the cooperation is enjoying wider popularity, higher quality and brighter prospects. The Forum has pointed the direction for Belt and Road cooperation and created an important opportunity to promote global economic growth and achieve common prosperity. At the same time, the Forum also build a bridge and stage for China to strengthen friendship and deepen bilateral relations with various partners of BRI.
Specific to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), CPEC, the two sides reviewed the important consensus reached during Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China last year. This time, the two leaders made a top-level design for high-quality development of CPEC, underlining the importance of bringing policy synergy between BRI and the development strategy of Pakistan, with more focus on industrial cooperation and social uplift and livelihood projects. Prime Minister Imran Khan once again reaffirmed his support for CPEC. His remarks on jointly addressing climate change, building tourism and livelihood corridor, promoting anti-corruption drive, setting up poverty alleviation fund, expanding free trade and investment were also widely welcomed by all the participants at the forum.
During the forum, the leaders of the two countries witnessed the inking of 6 bilateral agreements, including CPFTA-II, Declaration of Completion of Preliminary Design Phase-I regarding up-gradation of ML-1 and construction of a new dry port near Havelian Dry Port under CPEC, China-Pakistan Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement, MOU on CPEC Social Economic Cooperation, MOU on Cooperation in the field of Marine Sciences between the China Geological Survey and Pakistan Navy, Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Concession Agreement. The two sides also agreed on 14 cooperation initiatives or documents covering transportation, customs, agriculture, postal services, energy, disaster reduction, technology, environmental protection, intellectual property and many other fields. 370 Chinese entrepreneurs attended the China-Pakistan Trade and Investment Forum held in Beijing. They expressed optimism about the development potential of Pakistan and willingness to take advantage of investment opportunities. All above-mentioned cooperation closely focused on industrial cooperation and social livelihood uplift as priorities of the next phase of the CPEC. It is also fully in line with the “Naya Pakistan” proposed by the PTI led government in Pakistan and the voice of common Pakistani people. It embodies the expectation and determination of China and Pakistan to integrate their interests and seek common development. It has injected new impetus into the development of China-Pakistan relations and the CPEC in the new era.
The BRI is a Chinese dream, but its opportunities and achievements are shared by the world. Pakistan is an important supporter and participant in the BRI. The high-quality development of BRI will create more opportunities for China-Pakistan relations and the CPEC. In fact, Pakistan is biggest beneficiary of BRI, and CPEC is flagship project. It serves as role module and can be replicated for the rest of the 5 proposed economic corridors. China is willing to work with the Pakistani government and its people to implement the consensus of the BRF and the outcome of the leaders' meeting. China-Pakistan will comprehensively deepen mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields, to ensure the expansion and broadening of the CPEC, so as to better serve the two countries and two peoples and achieve common prosperity and progress. It is believed, China and Pakistan, by working hand in hand, will forge a closer China-Pakistan community of shared future in the new era, and contribute to a new and win-win chapter of Belt and Road cooperation. Focused is on trickle down the impact of CPEC to common citizens and better serve the people of both nations.
Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, special commentator of Gwadar Pro, Sinologist (ex-Diplomate), Non-Resident Fellow of CCG, National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.