10-year CPEC celebrations: Pakistan and China sign MoUs, agree to expedite cooperation in 2nd phase of CPEC

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng emphasized the project’s significance in transforming Pakistan’s economic landscape and promoting regional connectivity.

The ceremony, attended by high-level leadership from both countries, also saw the signing of six MoUs between the two countries to expedite cooperation in the second phase of CPEC. The two sides also praised CPEC’s positive contributions to socio-economic development and prosperity.

PM Shehbaz Sharif expressed confidence in Pakistan and China jointly overcoming attempts to bypass Pakistan in the connectivity process, ensuring CPEC’s extension to benefit the entire region and beyond.

“[But] I have no doubt that Pakistan and China will together fill in the gap and this corridor … will extend in many ways to include the entire region and other parts of the world,” he said during his address to the ceremony.

He further thanked China for supporting Pakistan during difficult times by rolling over loans, emphasizing Pakistan’s aspiration to stand on its own feet.

Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, the chief guest of the ceremony, lauded CPEC as a pioneering project under the Belt and Road Initiative, highlighting the achievements that contributed to regional economic growth and mutual trust.

“It is a vivid testament to our all-weather friendship and provides an important opportunity for building a close Pakistan-China community”.

The event witnessed the issuance of a special Postal Stamp, Commemorative Coin, and First Day Cover to mark the occasion’s significance. Performances showcased the rich culture of Pakistan and strengthened the fraternal ties between Pakistan and China.

Earlier, Vice Premier He Lifeng arrived in Pakistan on a three-day visit to Pakistan on July 30 and was warmly welcomed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his delegation at the PM House on July 31 to witness first-hand the transformative impacts of CPEC.

Pakistan and China sign 6 agreements

Pakistan and China solidified their bilateral cooperation by signing six agreements during a ceremony in Islamabad on Aug. 1. Prime Minister Shehbaz, Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, and other foreign dignitaries attended the ceremony.

Expressing gratitude for China’s continuous support, PM Shehbaz thanked the Chinese president for sending a senior official to strengthen the people-to-people friendship between the two nations, underscoring the robustness of their bond.

“Today, we have signed some important documents which will enhance our economic cooperation, and we will undertake the second phase under a new mode,” said PM Sharif.

The new mode of cooperation in the second phase aims to foster investments in agriculture and IT, enabling Pakistan to export goods that meet the Chinese government’s requirements and standards with China’s support, according to the PM.

He also acknowledged the prompt implementation of CPEC, originally signed by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“Today, we can claim that under the CPEC, more than $25bn investment took place in power, energy, public transport, and other sectors.”

Following the signing ceremony, PM Shehbaz engaged in delegation-level talks with Vice Premier He Lifeng, focusing on various aspects of bilateral cooperation, aiming to further strengthen the bond between Pakistan and China.

List of MoUs signed

The following MoUs were signed between the two countries:

  1. The joint cooperation committee of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) signed the first MoU.
  2. The second MoU was related to the establishment of an expert exchange mechanism within the framework of CPEC.
  3. The third MoU was signed for the export of dried Chillies from Pakistan to China.
  4. Planning of National Highway Authority and Chinese Charge D’Affaires signed the fourth document on the realignment of the Karakoram Highway Phase II project feasibility study.
  5. An MOU on Industrial Workers’ Exchange Program was also signed.
  6. Lastly, the two sides agreed to promote the strategic ML-1 project.
10th anniversary of CPEC
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng witness the signing of six MoUs in Islamabad during the celebrations held to mark the 10th anniversary of CPEC on July 31, 2023. (Image Credit: PID)

President calls for enhanced Chinese investment in SEZs

Earlier, President Dr. Arif Alvi welcomed a delegation led by the Special Representative of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Vice-Premier of the State Council of China at the President House on July 31.

During the meeting, President called for increased Chinese investment in Pakistan’s economy, especially in Special Economic Zones (SEZs), to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation. He further emphasized Pakistan’s desire for Chinese support in sectors such as agriculture, Information Technology (IT), transport, and textiles.

President Alvi praised the enduring All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership between Pakistan and China, highlighting their unwavering support for each other during challenging times. He acknowledged the transformative impact of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on Pakistan’s economic landscape, bringing prosperity to the region and helping overcome electricity shortages. Pakistan pledged continued firm support for China on its core issues.

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