The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has attracted $46 billion investments so far and become one of the flagship projects of President Xi Jinping’s mega global connectivity initiative, said authorities here ahead of a high-profile Silk Road summit later this week. This is the first time that China officially revealed the investment figures which were so far circulated by Pakistani officials. Some reports emanating from Pakistan had said that the investments were as high as $50 billion.
Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Pakistan, an official body, said the CPEC has attracted $46 billion investments so far and become one of the flagship projects in the China-proposed “One Belt, One Road” — the official name for Silk Road initiative.
The figures were released as China gets ready to hold the Belt and Road summit on May 14-15. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be among 28 heads of state and government who will be attending the summit.
The mega project with 3,000 kms of network of roads, railways, pipelines and infrastructure projects connects China’s Kashghar in Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Gwadar port. The project also passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was quoted by the official media saying that “If the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative is a symphony involving countries along the route, then the CPEC is the sweet prelude to the show.”
The Belt and Road includes a maze of roads and port projects. While the CPEC is highlighted as a “flagship project”, B&R included Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor, New Eurasian Land Bridge, China- Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor, China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor and 21st century Maritime Silk Road.
About 40 cooperation agreements and memoranda of understanding have been signed under the cooperation framework of the CPEC and more projects are under negotiation, aGlobal Times report said.
Speaking to the daily, the Association’s President, Sha Zukang said, “It’s a win-win situation. For China, we can transfer our advanced capacity to overseas markets, contributing to our agenda of industrial upgrading. Pakistan has distinctive advantages in receiving such capacity.
“The benefits to Pakistan are numerous. In recent years, the GDP growth in Pakistan maintained a robust rate of four per cent, and many of my Pakistani friends attribute it to the establishment of the CPEC.”
He said Pakistani officials have hailed the CPEC as a “game-changer” for the country’s economy.
“At the time when the CPEC was initiated, Pakistan was not an attractive destination for foreign investment due to its sluggish economy. While the investments are mostly from Chinese firms, the construction of the CPEC has reversed the trend and presented global investors with a brand-new image of Pakistan,” Sha said.
Other benefits include improved infrastructure, reduction of energy shortages and creation of jobs. More than 13,000 Pakistani nationals are involved in projects under the CPEC, it said.
Chinese companies participated in the construction of Gwadar Port set up a one million Pakistani rupee ($9,800) education fund last year to help Pakistani students study in China and learn Chinese.
“The country has also attached great importance to ensuring the safety of the CPEC. It has deployed special army personnel for the safety of CPEC workers, and there is already an integrated mechanism of all the state and provincial security operators, whose number has even surpassed that of Chinese workers. I believe the safety issues of the CPEC can be solved through those efforts”, he said
He also said most of the projects are funded by Chinese investors and some from Pakistan.
“Currently, most of the projects are financed by Chinese and Pakistani companies. But some other countries have shown intentions to invest since the CPEC was launched, and there are some energy projects that are already co-financed by third-party investors,” he said.
“As the CPEC proceeds and Pakistan’s investment environment improves, I believe more third-country investors will be attracted to participate in the projects,” Sha said.