Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday urged for the creation of a tourism corridor between member countries of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in order to promote regional connectivity.
While addressing a leaders' round table conference in China, the prime minister congratulated President Xi Jinping on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and said that China is an example of "a great success of the modern age".
He suggested that members of the BRI should:
- Establish a BRI Tourism Corridor for cultural and tourism exchanges.
- Develop programmes for improving the skills of labour from labour-surplus countries to assist the labour-deficient countries.
- Create multi-lingual digital platforms for connecting producers, consumers, and skilled job-seekers.
While explaining to the members of the conference the ties Pakistan and China have cultivated through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said that "to further boost connectivity and benefits under the Belt Road Initiative's umbrella" digital connectivity amongst member countries is key.
The other areas stressed by the premier to strengthen the ties formed through the BRI included mobility of labour, cultivation of cultural links and connectivity through knowledge and innovation.
Imran said the connectivity of Gwadar Port with China’s Xinjiang region will "provide a shorter route for China’s imports compared to the South China Sea, reduce the cost for Chinese companies, and develop western China as well".
He emphasised that "CPEC is not a transaction. It is a transformation of our society."
Along with a Pakistani delegation, the premier also met with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan today. On behalf of President Xi Jinping, the vice president hosted a banquet for PM Imran and the Pakistani delegation.
On Friday, in his speech at the inaugural session of the second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in Beijing, Prime Minister Imran had said: “As the Belt and Road Initiative takes a further concrete shape, I suggest we direct our efforts and focus on the peoples of our countries, and towards addressing impediments on their way to sustainable growth”.
Prime Minister Imran is among the 37 heads of state and government participating in the second edition of BRF, which is a platform for BRI partners to come together for reviewing their cooperation under the programme and charting the roadmap for future. As many as 122 states and 49 international organisations are part of Chinese BRI.
The five-point action plan proposed by the prime minister included joint efforts for mitigating climate change, establishing a BRI tourism corridor for promoting people-to-people contacts and inter-cultural understanding, setting up an office of anti-corruption cooperation, creating a poverty alleviation fund, and further liberalising trade and investment flows by encouraging private sector and businesses to collaborate in projects.
Prime Minister Imran's proposals reflected Pakistan government’s priorities and he recalled his administration’s massive tree plantation drive and efforts for alleviating poverty, including the launch of the Ehsas programme. Some of the proposals also reflected Chinese priorities as Beijing seeks to enhance the ‘quality of cooperation’ under the BRI.