China, Pakistan discuss economic cooperation as multi-billion dollar CPEC project turns 10

China, Pakistan discuss economic cooperation as multi-billion dollar CPEC project turns 10

Chinese vice premier is visiting Pakistan to celebrate CPEC, part of China's Belt and Road Initiative

By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - China's Vice Premier He Lifeng met Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday to discuss a range of issues, including bilateral economic and financial cooperation with a focus on the multi-billion-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The Chinese vice premier, who is also the special representative of President Xi Jinping, arrived in Islamabad on Sunday evening on a three-day official visit on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the CPEC project, part of China's Belt and Road Initiative.

During the meeting, according to a statement from Pakistan's Prime Minister Office, the two sides exchanged views on several aspects of bilateral relationship, including CPEC and bilateral economic and financial cooperation.

Beijing, last week, rolled over a $2.4-billion loan to Pakistan maturing in the next two fiscal years, in an attempt to prop up Islamabad's depleting foreign reserves.

Appreciating China’s support for Pakistan’s economic development, Sharif said that as strategic partners and trusted friends, the two countries have always stood by each other in difficult times, proof of which is Chinese support to Pakistan in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and devastating floods in Pakistan.

Noting the "unanimity of views" between the two countries on regional issues, the two leaders reiterated their resolve to support each other on all issues of their core interests, the statement added.

The Chinese vice premier conveyed Xi’s message of Beijing's "firm support to Pakistan’s prosperity and development."

He reiterated that as an "iron-brother" and strategic partner, China would continue its existing economic and financial support to Pakistan.

Welcoming Sharif's vision for deepening trade and investment ties with Pakistan, he conveyed China’s willingness to enhance Pakistan’s agricultural and food exports to China.

Expressing "satisfaction" at the steady development of CPEC projects in Pakistan, the two sides agreed on the centrality of the project for Pakistan’s socio-economic development and expressed their firm commitment to continue working together for realizing its shared objectives.

"It was also agreed that 10th anniversary of CPEC celebrations constituted a fresh starting point to further expand CPEC as envisaged by the leadership of the two countries," the statement further said.

Later, Sharif and He oversaw a ceremony for signing of agreements, memorandums of understand (MoUs) and other documents covering areas, including agriculture, industrial cooperation and transport connectivity.

- 10 years of CPEC

Pakistan's President Arif Alvi at a ceremony at the Presidential House conferred Hilal-e-Pakistan (Crescent of Pakistan), the country's second highest civil award, on He for his role in the promotion of bilateral ties between Pakistan and China, state-run Pakistan Television reported.

Launched in 2014, CPEC has attracted $25.4 billion in direct investment in 10 years, according to details shared by Beijing.

CPEC, is a major economic and infrastructure project between China and Pakistan, which enables China to access the Arabian Sea through the Gwadar Port.

There have been discussions to include Afghanistan in the infrastructure project, and the administration has also resolved to make the country a transit hub between Central and South Asia.

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