ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday said that the multibillion-dollar economic and infrastructure project between China and Pakistan, CPEC, was now entering a new era as he thanked investors for supporting the country out of the economic impasse.
“We are entering the second phase of CPEC, with a focus on green corridors, innovation, IT corridors, agriculture and Special Economic Zones,” he said. He also lauded the Chinese companies’ role and their hard work in the development of Pakistan.
The PM conferred awards upon prominent Chinese companies for their valuable services in fostering CPEC and other developmental projects in Pakistan.
Addressing the ceremony, the prime minister said Chinese investment changed the entire economic landscape of Pakistan. He said the Chinese companies made more than $30 billion in investment in different development projects in Pakistan, which is highly commendable.
He said it is a moment of great pleasure for him to meet Chinese companies’ representatives, who contributed immensely towards Pakistan’s industrial promotion in various walks of life.
The premier said the cooperation extended by the Chinese companies not only led to providing job opportunities to industrial production but also further strengthened brotherly economic ties with China.
He said the Chinese companies, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, transformed our economic landscape.
PM Shehbaz said the government of Pakistan recently launched a great initiative of establishing SIFC, under the leadership of Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir for the cause of Pakistan. He said SIFC will safeguard the entire CPEC mechanism and will be a propeller of Pakistan’s industrial-agri progress.
He also expressed his gratitude to the Chinese Charge d’ Affaires for her personal commitment not only to CPEC but to China-Pakistan friendship.
In her speech, Chinese Charge d’ Affaires in Pakistan, Pang Chunxue said we are fully convinced that after ten years of successful cooperation in CPEC, China and Pakistan will continue to move forward side by side to meet risks and challenges, jointly promote the high-quality development of CPEC and China Pakistan community with a shared future.
Between months of political turmoil and a long-drawn-out process to unlock crucial funding from the International Monetary Fund, Pakistan’s economy finds itself at a critical crossroads. Born from a perfect storm of minimal reserves, soaring public debt, inflation, and a depreciating currency, compounded by wider instability, the crisis shows no signs of imminent recovery, much less sustainable growth.
With staving off default the top priority for Pakistan’s planners in the foreseeable future, it would appear unlikely the government can spare much for development, despite any optimistic promises. Still, against this backdrop, a beacon of some hope may appear in the shape of the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The visit last week of China’s Vice Premier He Lifeng to Pakistan to commemorate the 10th anniversary of CPEC held immense significance as both sides agreed to revive Phase-II of the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Corresponding to the visit, President Xi Jinping’s statement that China will work with Pakistan to aim for high-standard, sustainable and livelihood-enhancing outcomes and further build CPEC into an exemplary project of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, has added further impetus to the project, offering hope for economic revival.
Alongside the revival of CPEC Phase-II, Vice Premier He Lifeng’s visit has also heralded, expanding cooperation into new domains such as rural revitalisation, agricultural development, industrialisation and green development. By focusing on these areas, Pakistan aims to unleash the potential for inclusive growth and prosperity across the nation.
At a time when Pakistan faces severe economic challenges, the renewal of CPEC’s second phase comes as a timely opportunity to address the country’s immediate needs while paving the way for long-term development. As BRI’s flagship project, CPEC has already demonstrated its transformative impact on Pakistan’s infrastructure, energy, and regional connectivity. Now, with the initiation of Phase-II, the partnership between China and Pakistan is set to deepen further, solidifying their strategic relationship.