Pakistan and China on Friday decided to establish new development corridors – including green, digital, health, trade and industry areas – in order to boost sector-wise cooperation.
The consensus was reached during a virtual meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Chairman He Lifeng in Beijing, according to an official handout.
PM Imran on Thursday arrived in China on a four-day visit with a focus on trade, economic cooperation and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The premier would have meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang. He would also attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in the Chinese capital.
During the meeting, both sides reviewed the progress of ongoing CPEC projects and discussed the preparations for future initiatives. The PM was accompanied by cabinet ministers and senior officials for the meeting while He Lifeng was accompanied by Vice Chairmen Ning Jizhe and Tang Dengjie and other NDRC senior officials.
“Pakistan-China all-weather strategic cooperative partnership is time-tested and timeless. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, work on all CPEC projects progressed steadily due to joint cooperation of both sides,” PM Imran said and appreciated the efforts of NDRC and relevant authorities of both sides.
The premier reiterated that as the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative, CPEC had strategic significance for both Pakistan and China and was delivering tangible benefits to the people of the two countries. He expressed satisfaction that CPEC’s early-harvest projects have transformed the country’s economic landscape and laid a “solid foundation” for sustainable economic growth.
Reaffirming the commitment of two sides to timely completion of CPEC, PM Imran said that both sides would continue expediting efforts to achieve Gwadar’s potential as a hub of regional commerce and industry while also prioritising preparatory work on the Mainline-I and other key energy projects.
NDRC Chairman He Lifeng said that China attached “immense significance” to CPEC and was committed to its steady progress. “China has become Pakistan’s largest investment and trade partner in last seven years and both sides are keen to maintain the momentum of overall economic and trade ties in future as well,” he added.
He Lifeng, who is also the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference vice chairman, said the NDRC and all relevant Chinese institutions would continue their efforts to encourage Chinese state-owned and private enterprises to invest in CPEC projects.
Thanking the PM for his “firm support,” the NDRC chairman expressed China’s readiness to assist Pakistan in the areas of industrialisation, agricultural modernization, science and technology and socio-economic development.
During the meeting, both sides welcomed the signing of the framework agreement on industrial cooperation between the Board of Investment and the NDRC which would, inter alia, facilitate the relocation of China’s industrial units to CPEC SEZs and accelerate investment from China and elsewhere.
Both sides also signed the minutes of the 6th Joint Working Group meeting on Gwadar which was held on December 30 2021. The minutes were signed by Planning Minister Asad Umar and NDRC Vice Chairman Ning Jizhe.