Islamabad: China has said that there was no slowdown of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects and the two countries have identified three key areas to promote the USD 50 billion initiative as it entered a “new phase”.
The CPEC, which connects China’s Xinjiang province with the strategic Gwadar Port in Balochistan, is the flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The 3,000-km CPEC is aimed at connecting China and Pakistan with rail, road, pipelines and optical fibre cable networks. India has been severely critical of the CPEC as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
“CPEC is running according to our satisfaction and there is no slowdown in it,” Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing said at a seminar titled ‘Friends of Silk Road’, organised by the Pakistan-China Institute, in Islamabad on Sunday.
The CPEC, the envoy said, was laid on a solid foundation and the multi-billion dollar project has “entered a new phase”, the Express Tribune reported.
Yao said in the new phase, the Chinese government was working very closely with the Pakistani government and has identified three key areas to promote the CPEC.
The first one is the establishment of special economic zone with focus on Rashakai, a small town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where preference would be given to private and agriculture sector.
Secondly, a special agricultural expo would be organised in late October in Islamabad and Lahore with a focus on fisheries.
Thirdly, the development of social sector in which 27 projects in six areas were being fast tracked.
Minister for Planning and Development Khusro Bakhtyar said the Pakistan-China Business Council and the CPEC Authority were established “to push the CPEC forward”.
The CPEC, he said, was above any political divide and there was a national consensus on it.
The minister said that the government has decided to go ahead with the project for the upgradation of the 1,700-km railway line from Peshawar to Karachi and a memorandum on it would be signed soon.
Bakhtyar said the USD 8.3 billion rail project would be taken to the CPEC Joint Coordination Committee (JCC) at its meeting in November.
The minister underlined that 80 percent of electricity would be generated by the CPEC energy projects. The legal framework of Gwadar Free Trade Zone was also ready, he said.
The Rashakai SEZ would start by the end of October, Bakhtyar said.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed said the CPEC was a success story because of the strong and unshakeable framework of the Pakistan-China ties.
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