Why is Prime Minister Khan’s visit to China crucial for CPEC?
In the era of complex interdependence and rapidly changing global political landscape, Pakistan-China relations have successfully survived the thick of time.
History suggests the ceaseless affiliation of Pakistan and China in various spheres of cooperation, and in recent times projects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and a common antagonist like India have further strengthened this tried friendship.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan began his historic four-day visit to the People’s Republic of China on February 3, 2022.
The visit is hailed as an eminent and perfectly timed decision by the Pakistani Prime Minister.
Of course, it couldn’t come at a better time than this when Pakistan’s commitment to reshaping its national priorities and its longstanding conversion to a people-centered state is still a hot topic since the unveiling of Pakistan’s new national security policy.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s new visit to China has given this commitment new life.
The visit, as stated in the joint press release, was comprehensive and both sides adequately addressed the underlying concerns in more than 21 different areas related to trade, security, bilateral cooperation, regional and international political landscape and, above all, to the development and future of CPEC.
The visit was a success from a purely economic point of view as the Pakistan Board of Investment (BOI) and the National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC) signed the much awaited framework agreement on industrial cooperation within the framework of the CPEC.
Imran Khan himself held a one-on-one meeting with the Chairman of the NDRC and deliberated at length on the progress made on the projects under the CPEC.
China also affirmed that it will start the second phase of CPEC and expressed its willingness to increase the volume of its investment in the project to boost industrialization and bring about an overall improvement in the livelihoods of ordinary people.
Once fully embodied, this much broader phase of CPEC will boost Pakistan’s industrial and agricultural sector and ensure the introduction of scientific modernization and job creation in Pakistan.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi added that Pakistan and China are making rapid progress on Gwadar Port and Gwadar Free Trade Zone, which could serve as a channel to promote greater connectivity. regional and economic integration.
The first phase of CPEC has been instrumental in enabling Pakistan to develop the required infrastructure and has benefited Pakistan immensely in the development of its highways to improve reliable connectivity across the Karakoram Range and improve internal communication.
Under the umbrella of the first phase, Pakistan has completed the completion of 1320 megawatt coal-fired power stations in Sahiwal, Port Qasim Karachi and Hub (Balochistan), the 660 megawatt Engro Thar coal-fired power project and the 1000 megawatt Quaid-e-Azam solar park in Bahawalpur. .
The mark of economic progress and possible new alliances is indicated by the mention of Russia during the visit and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi revealed Prime Minister Imran Khan’s upcoming visit to Russia.
This, of course, will open up a new specter of regional cooperation.
Pakistan can take advantage of this vital opportunity to ease the burden of misunderstandings with Russia and reap the benefits of Russia’s incorporation into China’s BRI projects.
This will not only reap favorable economic results for Pakistan, but would also be a success for Pakistan in the strategic field against India.
The deliberations as they took place on the CPEC could otherwise be seen as confidence-building measures on the safety of ongoing projects as China resumed work on the Dasu hydroelectric project on January 22 earlier. this year, which was halted in July 2021 after a bus carrying Chinese personnel broke down. attack.
Therefore, the contemplation of regional contestation in light of India’s ever-increasing strategic objectives and its potential reservations and activities to curb the development of CPEC must also have been brought to light.
The strategic success of the visit is evident from the reaffirmation of both sides to support each other’s positions on Kashmir and Xinjiang/Tibet.
China recognized Pakistani concerns over Afghanistan and both sides affirmed the essentiality of a peaceful Afghanistan to the collective and peaceful future of the South Asian region.
This recognition was followed by a proposal to invite Afghanistan to a trilateral foreign ministers’ dialogue.
The declaration as adopted by Prime Minister Imran Khan suggesting that China is the bedrock of Pakistan’s foreign policy is indicative of Pakistan’s shift from its westward foreign policy to a more regionally focused approach.
Pakistan is already seeking to materialize this idea, starting with Turkey and Iran.
The inclusion of giant regional powers like China and Russia would further strengthen this long-awaited alliance.
President Xijiping signaled his wish to visit Pakistan in the future as a gesture of good faith and as a symbol of his willingness to expand the sphere of bilateral cooperation between the two Iron Brothers.
In short, President Xijiping’s planned visit to Pakistan will further strengthen the ties of the two countries, ensuring the success of CPEC.