KARACHI: “There will be 27 new projects in the second phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),” said Consul General of China Wang Yu during a dialogue on the subject organised by the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations (KCFR) at a local hotel here on Thursday.
He said that following the signing of the memorandum of understanding between China and Pakistan for the second phase of CPEC earlier this year, work on these 27 new projects was expected to begin by the end of the year.
“Agriculture, education, vocational training, industry, increase in water supply, etc, are all part of our plans for the next phase,” he added.
He also said that because of the good diplomatic relations and close friendship enjoyed by China and Pakistan, many Pakistani students were going to China for their higher studies while many Chinese students are studying in universities in Pakistan. “The Chinese Consulate in Pakistan also sends some 20 Pakistani journalists to China on an annual basis. These journalists then pen articles about China and prepare documentaries about our country, which helps others here know China better,” he said.
‘Kashmir is a historic issue which should be resolved through talks’
“Likewise, China also invites and hosts artists and painters from Pakistan for the exchange of cultures of both countries. Our doctors and surgeons also visit Pakistan regularly and they perform several complicated surgeries for free here. In Karachi alone, our ophthalmologists have performed over 500 cataract surgeries. And this relationship should grow further with the efforts of people from all walks of life on both sides, be they businessmen, politicians or other professionals. We need to be focusing together on positive outlooks,” he said.
Regarding the situation in India-occupied Kashmir, the CG said that China stood with Pakistan. “Kashmir is a historic issue which should be resolved through talks,” he added.
KCFR chairman Ikram ul Majeed Sehgal said that the current situation with India and what they were doing in Kashmir made China’s friendship with Pakistan and its stance particularly important.
Answering a question about security, Consul General Yu said there was no economic development without security. “Education and employment is also affected by a lack of security,” he said.
About the nuclear power plants in Karachi, he said he was aware that they were to come online by next year. “Power plants are needed as soon as possible in order to address the issue of energy shortage. Nuclear power plants will address this country’s long-term needs,” he said.
“There is also severe water shortage here but hopefully things would improve after heavy rainfall in Balochistan,” he added.
In reply to another question about garbage and waste disposal and how the contract with the Chinese company that was going to do the work here was cancelled, he explained that there were two sides to the story. “The Chinese side is that the Sindh government didn’t fulfil its part of the deal and the money was not paid to the company on time and they were left to work on their own resources. Meanwhile, the Pakistan side is that the Chinese company did not fulfil its agreement. But the contract was mainly cancelled due to commercial reasons,” he said.
In reply to a question about investment from China, he said the last two to three months had seen more Chinese investors coming here. “They are eager to invest here but they also need to know that the investments they make are sound and that they will also earn money here and for this there is a need for a fine transport system for the transportation of goods, new airports, etc. We are here for business and trade, but we are not in a decision-making position,” he cleared.
Published in Dawn, August 30th, 2019