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KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the Chine-Pakistan Economic Corridor is not merely a road construction project, rather a long-term strategic development agenda as it includes the Karachi Circular Railway, Keti Bandar Power Park and China Special Economic Zone at Dhabeji.

“I am going to China in the delegation of the prime minister tomorrow and these projects would be approved there,” the chief minister said while speaking at a programme held by the Chinese Consulate at a local hotel on Wednesday to launch a documentary titled CPEC, a real transformation to people’s life in Karachi.

The programme was attended by leading businessman, diplomats and notables in a large number. The chief minister said the documentary showed a strong partnership between Pakistan and China in different sectors such as ports and shipping, wind energy, finance, construction and cultural activities under which Chinese were learning Urdu and Pakistanis learning Chinese. “This is a new change under which friendship between the two nations would further cement,” he said, recalling that the relationship between the two countries was one that had been established by trust, interwoven with friendship, and cemented with confidence and pride.

He said the Pakistan Peoples Party believed that CPEC could act as a force multiplier for Pakistan. “It is not merely a road construction project, rather a long-term strategic development agenda. I would say that our relationship with China is beyond CPEC.”

Talking about his government’s stance, the chief minister said the Sindh government was fully supportive of all CPEC projects. “I am happy to report that the major projects located in Sindh have not only achieved financial close but some are on the verge of beginning commercial operations,” he said, adding that the Thar coal mining and power plant was the flagship project of the Sindh government. “Like CPEC, Thar coal development is a defining moment for Pakistan’s economy. After achieving financial close in April 2016, the project is progressing swiftly, and soon we are going to expand coal mine in order to achieve economies of scale and bring the coal price down. Additionally, another CPEC project (Thar coal block-I) is expected to achieve financial close by March 2017,” he announced.

He said that in addition to coal, one CPEC wind power project (Hydro China Dawood-50MW) was complete and two more (UEP-100MW and Sachal-50MW) would be completed by June this year.

Similarly, he said, China Three Gorges (100MW) company would achieve financial close by April 2017. “There is a huge potential to develop wind energy and we have received tremendous response as a direct result of our favourable policies.”

The chief minister said the Sindh government had allotted 30,000 acres of land for renewable energy projects.

Talking about the security of Chinese citizens, he said it was a top priority of the government. “We are amassing a dedicated force of 2,000 former soldiers for this purpose. This would be in addition to 4,000 policemen who are already being trained by the Pakistan Army. I have set up a special desk at my office and central police office for CPEC security,” he added.

Earlier, Chinese Consul General Wang Yu delivered the welcome speech and highlighted some facts about the documentary.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2017