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China-Pakistan Economic Cooperation Strengthens Amid Security Challenges

© AP Photo / Anjum NaveedPakistan Navy soldiers patrol in Gwadar port, about 700 kilometers (435 miles) west of Karachi, Pakistan, Monday, April 11, 2016
Pakistan Navy soldiers patrol in Gwadar port, about 700 kilometers (435 miles) west of Karachi, Pakistan, Monday, April 11, 2016 - Sputnik India, 1920, 16.05.2024
Pakistan is undergoing a transformation led by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a project that addresses the country's economic challenges. Recently leaders of Pakistan and China discussed how to further promote economic development of the region.
Pakistan and China are strengthening their trade connections in the face of mountin security challenges.
Pakistan's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Ishaq Dar, is currently in Beijing on an official visit. He met Chinese Deputy Prime Minister, Ding Xuexiang on Wednesday.
The two ministers discussed various aspects of bilateral relations including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (Phase-II), trade, economic cooperation and investment.
Stressing that China and Pakistan are strategic cooperative partners, Ding said China was willing to work with Pakistan to implement the strategic consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, maintain high-level communication, coordinate development and security and deepen people-to-people ties.
The two leaders also agreed to expedite the effort for an even closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future bringing more benefits to both the nations.

What is the CPEC Phase II?

During this week’s visit to China, Ishaq Dar also met with Liu Jianchao, secretary of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC), to discuss various aspects of the CPEC.
The CPEC is a large-scale, multi-billion dollar initiative aimed at building energy, highway and port infrastructures to enhance economic connections between China and Pakistan.
It connects Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Balochistan province with China’s Xinjiang province through a network of roads and highways running through most of Pakistan. The project has been well-received in both the countries, although it faces multiple challenges.
Nevertheless, the two leaders are looking to launch the second phase of the CPEC as early as possible.
Sputnik reached out to Abdul Shahid, a political analyst and former lead researcher at Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR), to discuss the second phase of the CPEC and its effects on Pakistan's economy.

"The second phase of the CPEC includes completion of 63 additional projects, valued at $35 billion, by 2030. These projects include various sectors, such as infrastructure, energy, and production," Shahid said. "China’s expected investment of $58 billion aims to revitalize Pakistan’s economy and foster its development. The second phase will further enhance Pakistan’s infrastructure, create jobs, and improve economic growth."

The project has already attracted more than $25 billion in investment in sectors like power, road infrastructure, hydropower and public transport.
Shahid explained that China's leadership considers the CPEC a potential source of stability and prosperity for both the countries.

"Economic cooperation with Pakistan is closely linked to security, and improvements in one area can positively impact the other," he said. "For example, by enhancing transportation networks and trade routes, China aims to strengthen its economic ties with Pakistan and the broader South Asian region."

In addition, the tourism sector is also expected to expand during the second phase and these initiatives are very promising for job opportunities for the local residents, as agriculture, manufacturing and tourism industries are considered two vital aspects of economic futures of both the nations.
But, the analyst stressed, there are challenges in implementing CPEC Phase II, primarily linked to security to the projects and Chinese nationals working in Pakistan.

Activities Aimed at Destabilizing CPEC in Pakistan

In late March, a suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a convoy of Chinese engineers and workers in north-western Pakistan, killing five of them and their local driver. The slain Chinese nationals were working on a major dam project. Sadly, this was not the first time that Chinese nationals were attacked in Pakistan.
Pakistani military spokesman Major-General Ahmed Sharif said the attack was planned in Afghanistan, and terrorists and their facilitators were also being controlled from there.

According to General Shahid, the security incidents were "targeting Chinese nationals point to the atrocious designs of certain groups operating from across the border, perpetrating acts of violence under the pretence of religious extremism."

The Pakistani government also firmly urged its Afghan counterparts to prevent the exploitation of Afghan territory for terrorist activities aimed at destabilizing Pakistan. It stressed the need for Afghanistan to put control over groups operating within its borders that seek to undermine Pakistan's security.

"Such horrendous crimes are damaging investor confidence and tarnishing Pakistan's image, but Pakistan’s security forces are working hard to prevent such incidents in the future and as the recent meeting between the two leaders highlighted - it will not stop the CPEC from going forward," the analyst added.

Pakistani initiatives such as the construction of power transmission lines to Iran, integration of the Makran Coast into the national grid and rehabilitation of port of Gwadar underscore Islamabad's commitment to overcoming hurdles and realizing the full potential of the CPEC projects.

"With determination and joint effort, Pakistan and China are set to navigate challenges and seize these opportunities pushing CPEC forward towards prosperity," Shahid concluded.

Indian army vehicles move in a convoy in the cold desert region of Ladakh, India, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. Nestled between India, Pakistan and China, Ladakh has not just faced territorial disputes but also stark climate change. - Sputnik India, 1920, 27.03.2024
Terrorist Attacks on Chinese Nationals in Pakistan Raise Concerns for CPEC Security
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