Pakistan and China signed on Monday six documents that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said would further enhance bilateral cooperation and help undertake the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under a new model.
Held at the PM House, the signing ceremony was witnessed by Prime Minister Shehbaz and Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, who along with a delegation, is visiting here to attend the 10th-anniversary celebrations of CPEC.
Both countries signed Document on Joint cooperation committee on CPEC; MoU on establishing an export exchange mechanism within the framework of CPEC; a protocol of phytosanitary requirements for the export of dry chillies from Pakistan to China and a Document on the final report on the feasibility study of realignment of KKH Phase-II.
Both sides also signed through diplomatic channels an MoU on the industrial workers exchange programme as well as minutes of the 21st conference of a technical committee to promote the strategic ML-1 project.
The prime minister, in his remarks at the signing ceremony, expressed pleasure over the signing of documents and thanked Chinese Vice-Premier He Lifeng for visiting Pakistan to celebrate 10 years of CPEC.
He recalled that 10 years ago, CPEC was signed between that the-then prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese President Xi Jinping and implementation was started within no time.
“Today we can claim that under CPEC above $25 billion investment took place in power, road, hydel power, and public transport. Now we are entering the second phase. Today, we signed certain important documents which will further enhance cooperation and undertake the second phase of CPEC under a new model,” the prime minister said.
He said the second phase of CPEC would feature the B2B investment in agriculture and information technology to enable Pakistan to export its products according to Chinese standards and requirements.
The prime minister also thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping for sending his special envoy to Pakistan and showing solidarity for people-to-people friendship and showing to the world that both countries were bound in a great and unique relationship.
“We are all-weather friends and iron brothers. This friendship will continue and will not tolerate any kind of obstacle in its way,” PM Shehbaz said.
He said Pakistan was “absolutely ready” to contribute to President Xi’s vision of shared prosperity.
He highlighted the importance of ML-I and the Karachi Circular Railway. The prime minister expressed the hope that both projects would be successfully executed to make Pakistan stand on its own feet through the hard work and untiring efforts of both countries.
“It is the Chinese model. It is President Xi Jinping’s model and will emulate it under the vision of Pakistan’s founding father late Quiad-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to promote prosperity and peace in this country,” he added.
‘China will continue its existing economic and financial support to Pakistan’
Pakistan and China have expressed satisfaction at the steady development of CPEC projects in Pakistan and agreed on its centrality for Pakistan’s socio-economic development.
The bilateral ties including CPEC were discussed in a meeting between PM Shehbaz and Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng.
Both sides expressed their firm commitment to continue working together for realising the shared objectives of the CPEC. It was also agreed that the 10th anniversary of CPEC celebrations constituted a “fresh starting point” to further expand CPEC as envisaged by the leadership of the two countries.
The two sides exchanged views on several aspects of the bilateral relationship including CPEC and bilateral economic and financial cooperation.
The prime minister congratulated Vice Premier He Lifeng on being promoted to the vice premier of China in March this year.
PM Shehbaz appreciated China’s support for Pakistan’s economic development. As strategic partners, h said the two countries have always stood by each other in difficult times, as evidenced by Chinese support to Pakistan in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and devastating floods in Pakistan.
He noted the unanimity of views between the two countries on regional issues. Both leaders reiterated their resolve to support each other on all issues of their core interests.
Vice Premier He Lifen conveyed President Xi’s message of China’s firm support for Pakistan’s prosperity and development.
He underlined that the Pakistan-China friendship was “unique and had withstood the vicissitude of time” due to deep fraternal ties between the peoples of the two nations.
He reiterated that as an iron brother and strategic partner, China would “continue its existing economic and financial support to Pakistan”.
The Chinese vice premier welcomed the prime minister’s vision for deepening trade and investment ties with Pakistan. He conveyed China’s willingness to enhance Pakistan’s agro and food exports to China.
The Chinese delegation included Guo Wei, Deputy Secretary General of the State Council of China, Sun Weidong, Vice Minister of Foreign Ministry, Cong Liang, Vice Chairman National Development & Reform Commission, Xuan Changneng, Deputy Governor of the People’s Bank of China, Wang Kebing, Deputy Governor of the People’s Bank of China, Wang Liping, Director General of the Department of Asian Affairs of the Ministry of Commerce, Pang Chunxue, Charge d’Affaires, Chinese Embassy Islamabad and other senior Chinese officials.
The Pakistan side included Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Syed Naveed Qamar, Minister for Commerce, Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Minister for Finance, Rana Sanaullah Khan, Minister for Interior, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Minister for Information, Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Minister for Railways, Hina Rabbani Khar, MOS for Foreign Affairs, Syed Tariq Fatemi, SAPM and senior officials from relevant ministries.
Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng arrives in Pakistan
Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng arrived in Pakistan on Sunday on a three-day visit where the two sides are expected to sign multiple agreements.
“During the visit, the vice premier will attend the 10th-anniversary celebrations of CPEC and call on the president and the prime minister,” the foreign office said in a statement. “He will also be the chief guest at an event celebrating the decade of CPEC.”
Lifeng will meet PM Shehbaz at the Prime Minister’s House on Monday. He will engage in delegation-level talks with Pakistani officials and will also meet Shehbaz one-on-one. Multiple MOUs are expected to be signed.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, and Special Assistant to the PM on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi received the Chinese vice prime minister upon his arrival in Islamabad on Sunday.
Vice Premier He Lifeng has played a “prominent role” in China’s international economic relations and implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, of which CPEC is a flagship project. As the chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission from 2017-23, the FO said that he was “instrumental” in the planning and execution of multiple CPEC projects in Pakistan.
The visit is part of regular high-level exchanges and dialogue between Pakistan and China.
The Islamabad administration has announced a two-day local holiday in the federal capital in view of the security measures taken on the visit of He Lifeng, who is also the special representative of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposed by President Xi Jinping, and also the 10th anniversary of the launch of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
“Over the past decade, as an important pioneering project of the BRI, CPEC has achieved fruitful results and become a new benchmark for the friendship between China and Pakistan. To mark the 10th anniversary of the launch of CPEC, the Pakistani government will hold a grand celebration event in the country’s capital Islamabad,” said the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement on Saturday.
China has hoped that the visit would be an opportunity for both sides to jointly implement the “important consensus” between leaders of the two countries, “renew the traditional friendship, build on past achievements and upgrade the development of CPEC”.