China lauds CPEC as an example of BRI cooperation ahead of Pakistan PM's visit
Updated 14:14, 24-Apr-2019
By Abhishek G Bhaya

China on Tuesday reiterated that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an important flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which also offers a framework of cooperation with other countries and regions, just days ahead of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit to Beijing.

Khan will arrive in the Chinese capital on Thursday for a four-day visit during which he will attend the Second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) for International Cooperation from April 25 to 27.

"We welcome Prime Minister Imran Khan's participation in the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in China. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is an important flagship project of the Belt and Road cooperation," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing.

"With the joint efforts of our two countries, the CPEC has yielded a lot of concrete outcomes and delivered tangible benefits to our peoples. We have every confidence that China and Pakistan working together will make steadier and sustained progress under the CPEC and more benefits will be felt by the two peoples," he added.

"The cooperation under the CPEC, exemplary as it is, provides valuable experience for us in the Belt and Road cooperation with other countries and regions," Geng concluded.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang addresses a press conference in Beijing, April 23, 2019. /Photo via China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang addresses a press conference in Beijing, April 23, 2019. /Photo via China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Read also: Saudi Arabia to become key CPEC partner with Pakistan refinery deal

Analysis: Saudi-built mega oil city near Gwadar port to complement China's BRI

During his four-day visit, the Pakistani Prime Minister will also hold bilateral meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, Pakistan's The Dawn newspaper reported citing a statement from the country's Foreign Office.

Khan is also expected to sign several MoUs and agreements to enhance bilateral cooperation.

"Prime Minister (Imran Khan) is going to China and… our leaders jointly working with him will elaborate the next stage of (the) CPEC," Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing was quoted by The Dawn as saying at a launch event of a book titled, "CPEC – A Precursor to Regional Economic Growth and Stability” in Islamabad last week.

Yao said that the new stage of the CPEC was about broadening the area of cooperation under the CPEC and it would have three pillars – the greater involvement of private sector; social sector cooperation; and the involvement of third-party partners in CPEC projects.

"All countries are welcome to participate in Pakistan's economic development," the Chinese envoy said, adding that CPEC projects "are inclusive, open and all-embracing.”

Yao's remarks are significant amid an overwhelming desire on Pakistan's part to include Saudi Arabia as a key partner in CPEC. Riyadh has already signed an agreement to build a 10-billion-U.S.-dollar refinery in Pakistan's Gwadar port, which is being developed with Chinese funding as part of the CPEC. China has lauded Saudi investment in the project.

Several top leaders to attend second BRF

A view of the information desk of the media center for the Second BRF for International Cooperation at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, April 23, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

A view of the information desk of the media center for the Second BRF for International Cooperation at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, April 23, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

A journalist tries a virtual reality device at the VR interactive area of the media center for the second BRF at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, April 23, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

A journalist tries a virtual reality device at the VR interactive area of the media center for the second BRF at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, April 23, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

A general view of the media center for the second BRF and the China National Convention Center in Beijing, April 23, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

A general view of the media center for the second BRF and the China National Convention Center in Beijing, April 23, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

Read also: Explaining the BRI and BRF in four minutes

Besides the Pakistani Prime Minister, a total of 37 heads of state or government including Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, Mongolian President Khaltmaa Battulga, Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and President of the Swiss Confederation Ueli Maurer will attend the second BRF which will kickstart in Beijing on Thursday.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz will also take part in this year's event, according to a ministry statement. In addition, France, Germany, the UK, Spain, Japan, South Korea, and the EU will send high-level representatives to the forum.

The BRF is the highest level platform for international cooperation under the Belt and Road framework and is the most important event China will host this year.

Briefing the media about the forum last Friday, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that 126 countries and 29 international organizations have signed cooperation agreements with China to jointly build the BRI.

He revealed that the total trade volume between China and participating countries has surpassed six trillion U.S. dollars, investment has exceeded 80 billion U.S. dollars and the 82 cooperation parks built by China and relevant countries have created nearly 300,000 jobs, bringing enormous development opportunities for the countries involved and laying a solid foundation for China to host the second forum.

"Over the past two years with concerted efforts, the Belt and Road is becoming a clean road for cooperation, prosperity, openness, green development and win-win outcome that will benefit people of all countries," he said.

(Top image: Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, November 2, 2018. /Reuters Photo)

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