ISLAMABAD: The delayed 10th meeting of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’s Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) will be held on July 13 (Tuesday).
Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong, while speaking at the concluding session of a conference titled, ‘Pakistan-China At 70: Vision for the Future’, which had been hosted by the Pakistan-China Institute (PCI), said: “I am very happy to brief you that the 10th Joint Cooperation Committee meeting of the CPEC will be held this month.”
JCC is the top decision-making body of CPEC, which usually meets on annual basis. The committee’s sessions are co-chaired by Pakistan’s federal minister of planning, development, and special initiatives and the vice chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission.
Its last meeting, the ninth in the series, was held in Islamabad in Nov 2019. The 10th meeting has, therefore, been delayed by at least a few months reportedly because of differences over finalisation of the agenda for the meeting and delays in completion of the working group’s meetings.
Differences over finalisation of agenda delayed the 10th meeting for months
Differences between the two sides were reportedly about the financing for upgrade of ML-1 Railway Track, newer Chinese financial commitments for Gwadar, and roadmap for industrial cooperation.
The committee has several working groups placed under it, which meet between JCC sessions, and prepare recommendations for the main committee.
“China will uphold principles of mutual benefit and win-win, openness and inclusiveness, to cooperate with Pakistan to promote CPEC construction with high quality, to help Pakistan advance industrialisation, urbanisation and digitisation, and realise the vision of ‘Naya Pakistan’ at an early date,” Ambassador Rong said.
The past three JCC meetings — in 2017, 2018 and 2019 — did not approve any major projects. The last two meetings were, in particular, more focused on completion of ongoing projects and adjusting to the vision of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government, which wanted greater emphasis on the establishment of special economic zones and involvement of the private sector.
The Chinese envoy noted the expansion in cooperation under the CPEC framework from Gwadar, energy, transport infrastructure and industry to agriculture, science and technology and social welfare.
“Under joint efforts of both countries, the Rashakai Special Economic Zone has been successfully launched. The China-Pakistan Agricultural and Industrial Cooperation Information Platform has been established to pragmatically promote projects cooperation between the business communities of the two countries,” he said.
Mr Rong last Monday accompanied Prime Minister Imran Khan to Gwadar to attend the groundbreaking ceremony of North Free Zone, the launching of projects including Chemical Fertiliser Factory, Gwadar Animal Vaccination Factory, Lubricant Factory, Gwadar Expo Building, inauguration of Gwadar Tissue Plant Laboratory, and signing of cooperation documents for seawater desalination plant and solar generators grant from China.
The ambassador said that the two countries had agreed to expand CPEC cooperation to the field of information technology.
“We will implement the instructions of our two leaders to promote the CPEC cooperation. The CPEC plays an important role in Pakistan’s strategic transformation,” he maintained.
The next meeting of JCC would, therefore, be closely watched for its outcomes especially ML-1 financing and newer commitments for Gwadar.
PCI Chairman Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed recalled that 50 years ago, on this day, Dr Henry Kissinger flew to Beijing from Islamabad on a PIA flight. He observed that Pakistan had on that occasion acted as a bridge between China and US and suggested that Islamabad should continue to play that role.
Senator Mushahid said that Pakistan-China relations were neither transactional nor tactical or even directed against any third country.
Published in Dawn, July 9th, 2021