BEIJING: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Monday that the ‘One Belt, One Road (OBOR)’ initiative and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) were all about shared prosperity, beginning a new era for humanity and progress in poor regions.
“Work has already begun across Asia and Africa on infrastructure, industrial cooperation and new platforms of technology. Financial flows have found their way to some of the least developed parts of the world. These outcomes are knitting nations and regions into economic networks and inclusive neighbourhoods that transcend borders,” he said while addressing the second session of the Leaders Roundtable at the two-day Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
The prime minister, along with 29 other heads of state and government, was driven to the picturesque Yanqi Lake to attend the event themed ‘Connectivity cooperation for interconnected development’.
He said the core of the OBOR initiative was connectivity and long-term development, especially in developing countries.
PM addresses leaders roundtable at forum in China
He said the OBOR had brought to poor regions in the belt-road countries spectacular opportunities to break free from the vicious cycle of poverty and under-development.
Prime Minister Sharif said the railroads, highways, ports and airports being built were redefining economic landscapes within countries and regions.
“Hinterlands are being connected with coasts. Big businesses are moving to less developed and neglected territories. And a new generation of entrepreneurs is being inspired,” he said.
He said Pakistan was pursuing a vision of a peaceful, inter-connected and prosperous neighbourhood with great determination.
“In particular, we recognise the potential of digital technologies as a catalyst of connectivity, change and enablement. We have relentlessly pursued policies for digital and financial inclusion during the last four years.”
While doing this, Pakistan had particularly focused on the most disadvantaged segments of its population, he said and added that rapid digitalisation and next-generation connectivity were at the heart of his government’s agenda for transforming into a knowledge-based economy.
Prime Minister Sharif said the enhanced economic cooperation would benefit the present and future generations and reduce regional tensions and strife.
Building the CPEC together, both Pakistan and China were reaping the early benefits of interconnected development, he said.
He said the connection of Xinjiang to Gwadar and Karachi had created new supply and logistic chains, as well as manufacturing networks. “In fact, the CPEC has infused Pakistan’s economy with new vitality and dynamism.”
He said the Gwadar port would link up East, West and South Asia, besides reaching out to African and European markets. Progress on the port was swift and very soon Gwadar would develop into an inspired, organic and dynamic city full of great opportunities, he added.
In his statement at the first session of the roundtable at the International Conference Centre at Yanqi Lake, themed ‘Policy synergy for closer partnership’, the prime minister said China’s OBOR initiative would help overcome the threats of terrorism, refugee movement and food and water security in the region. “I am confident that with OBOR in place, we would be able to turn the tide of these threats.” He termed dialogue and communication with nations outside the belt-road routes necessary to dispel apprehensions.
He said his government was focusing on harmonising national development plans with the CPEC, closely coordinating with China for its planning and implementation and liaising with international financial institutions for policy alignment.
Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2017