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CPEC: China and Pakistan vow to protect it from “detractors and adversaries”

CPEC: China and Pakistan vow to protect it from “detractors and adversaries”

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: China and Pakistan on Friday pledged to protect the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) from its “detractors and adversaries,” as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met his Chinese counterpart Li Qiang and assured Beijing of providing ‘complete security’ to Chinese personnel working on the USD 65 billion project.

Without naming the “detractors and adversaries”—the terrorist outfits who have been killing Chinese and Pakistani personnel—the two countries are trying to revive the comatose CPEC, the flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s transcontinental Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), worth more than USD 200 billion, which also faces an uncertain future.

PM Sharif is currently on a five-day visit to China—even postponing the National Assembly’s Budget session!—at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, seeking to upgrade cooperation under the CPEC.

In a statement, the Pakistan Prime Minister’s Office said, that during the meeting, the two sides discussed the significance of Gwadar Port in Baluchistan as an important pillar of the CPEC and agreed to expedite the timely completion of all related infrastructure projects to transform the restive province into a regional economic hub, the media reported.

“They also expressed their firm commitment to protect CPEC from its ‘detractors and adversaries’ and to upgrade CPEC in the form of enhanced cooperation,” the statement said.

The two leaders reaffirmed unwavering support for each other on core issues and expressed continued commitment and support for the high-quality development of the CPEC, “Geo News” reported.

They also emphasized the timely completion of all ongoing projects with a special focus on industrial development, agriculture modernization, science and technology, and the development of Special Economic Zones for mutually beneficial and socio-economic development of Pakistan.

Sharif reaffirmed Pakistan’s ‘unflinching resolve’ to ensure the safety and security of Chinese personnel and projects in Pakistan.
Chinese investment and financial support since 2013 have been key for the South Asian nation’s struggling economy, including the rolling over of loans so that Islamabad can meet external financing needs when foreign reserves are critically low.

China has also invested billions in various power projects and road networks in Pakistan under the CPEC but the implementation of various projects has slowed in recent months.

The CPEC connects Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s separatist-infested Baluchistan with China’s own restive, Muslim-majority Xinjiang province.
The recurring attacks on the Chinese personnel working on the CPEC projects by militant groups in Pakistan have become a major concern for China.

In March, five Chinese and one Pakistani nationals were killed in a terrorist attack on their vehicle of the Dasu Hydropower Project undertaken by a Chinese company in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

During the talks, the two leaders discussed the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and discussed regional and global developments of mutual interest.

They underlined that the Pakistan-China all-weather strategic cooperative partnership was characterized by mutual trust, shared principles, and strategic convergence. PM Li congratulated Sharif on Pakistan’s recent election as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

The two sides agreed to maintain high-level exchanges, including strengthening institutional linkages at all tiers and in all spheres of bilateral cooperation. Pakistan and China will also continue to consult closely on issues of regional and global significance and multilateral fora, especially during the two-year tenure of Pakistan as a non-member of the UNSC.

The delegation-level talks were followed by an MoU signing ceremony. Both signed 23 MoUs and agreements deepening cooperation in transport infrastructure, industry, energy, agriculture, media, health, water, socio-economic development, and other areas of mutual interest.


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