Joining CPEC Beneficial For Regional Connectivity, Economic Prosperity: Sha Zukang
BEIJING, May 12 (APP): As a pilot project for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the China-Pakistan Economic corridor (CPEC) sets an example for other countries and regions along the route, showing that joining the initiative is beneficial for regional connectivity and economic prosperity, Chairman, China-Pakistan Friendship Association, Sha Zukang said here on Thursday. Ahead of the Belt and Road Summit, scheduled to be held here from May 14-15, he said in an interview that the benefits to Pakistan are numerous. “In recent years, the GDP growth in Pakistan maintained a robust rate of four percent, and many of my Pakistani friends attribute it to the establishment of the CPEC,” he added. He said the CPEC has been hailed as a “game-changer” for the country’s economy, adding, at the time when the CPEC was initiated, Pakistan was not an attractive destination for foreign investment due to its slow economic growth.
Sha Zukang opined that the construction of the CPEC has reversed the trend and presented global investors with a brand-new image of the country. Other benefits include improved infrastructure, reduction of energy shortages and creation of jobs, he said and added, more than 13,000 Pakistani nationals are involved in projects under the CPEC. He said, the Gwadar Port project is also estimated to provide hundreds of jobs in the next few years. Notably, Chinese companies that participate in the CPEC also have a strong sense of social responsibility. They are willing to share their development with the locals, he said. Commenting on benefits the CPEC bought to China and Pakistan, he said, “It’s a win-win situation. For China, we can transfer our advanced capacity to overseas markets, contributing to our agenda of industrial upgrading.
Pakistan has distinctive advantages in receiving such capacity.” For example, the Chinese companies participated in the construction of Gwadar Port set up an education fund amounting to one million rupee last year to help Pakistani students study in China and learn Chinese. About safety issues raised by some analysts, he said the Pakistan government has launched military operations in recent years to effectively curb terrorism. The country has also attached great importance to ensuring the safety of the CPEC, he said and added, it has deployed special army personnel for the safety of CPEC workers, and there is already an integrated mechanism of all the state and provincial security operators, whose number has even surpassed that of Chinese workers. When asked that most of the projects under the CPEC are funded by Chinese investors and no investors have come from a third country, he opined, currently, most of the projects are financed by Chinese and Pakistani companies. “But some other countries have shown intentions to invest since the CPEC was launched, and there are some energy projects that are already co-financed by third-party investors,” he added. He expressed the confidence, as the CPEC proceeds and Pakistan’s investment environment improves, more third-country investors will be attracted to participate in the projects.