China said today that $46 billion CPEC with Pakistan is a “pioneering” project of the ambitious Silk Road initiative and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s attendance at next week’s summit on a new Silk Road project will boost cooperation between the two ‘all-weather’ friends. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which passes through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, is a part of the new Silk Road project. The new Silk Road and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road projects together form President Xi Jinping’s ambitious plan, named the Belt and Road (B&R), to connect mainland China to Eurasian markets though a maze of road, rail and port projects.
China is hosting a summit in Beijing on May 14-15 which is likely to be attended by 28 world leaders, including from Pakistan, and it plans to project the summit as a global acceptance of the B&R initiative. “Pakistan is an important partner of China in promoting Belt and Road initiative,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters here. “The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a pilot and pioneering project in B&R initiative and progress has already been made in this regard,” he said replying to a question about Sharif’s visit to take part in the summit.
Geng said Sharif is visiting at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. He will be among the 28 heads of state and governments to take part in the visit. “We believe Prime Minister Sharif’s visit and attendance at the forum will give a boost to our cooperation in the relevant field,” he said. India is yet to confirm its participation in the Forum. The US and a number of other western countries have either skipped the forum or deputed officials to attend it.
Geng said a final document incorporating consensus views of all the participants on the initiative will be released at the end of the meeting. The B&R includes a maze of roads and port projects. While CPEC is highlighted as “flagship project,” it 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.