Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng on Sunday arrived in Islamabad on a three-day visit during which he will attend a ceremony planned to mark 10 years of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal and Minister for Interior Rana Sanaullah received the visiting dignitary at the airport.
A statement issued by the Foreign Office (FO) earlier on Saturday said that the Chinese vice premier will be in Pakistan from July 30 (today) to August 1 (Tuesday) at the federal government’s invitation to attend a ceremony celebrating a decade of CPEC as the chief guest.
It added that Lifeng would also hold meetings with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and President Dr Arif Alvi during the visit.
The FO had acknowledged Lifeng’s “prominent role” in China’s international economic relations and implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, of which CPEC is a flagship project.
As the chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission from 2017 to 2023, he was “instrumental in the planning and execution of multiple CPEC projects in Pakistan”, the FO had said.
It had added that his visit was a part of regular high-level exchanges and dialogue between Pakistan and China and reflected the importance attached by both countries to further deepen their “all-weather strategic cooperative partnership, enhance economic and financial cooperation, advance high-quality development of CPEC and explore new avenues for strengthening trade and investment ties”.
Meanwhile, a notification issued by the district magistrate of Islamabad said that all public and private schools, universities and colleges, all private companies, all markets and shops, and all commercial banks would remain closed on July 31 (Monday) and August 1 (Tuesday).
What is CPEC?
CPEC is a collection of infrastructure and other projects under construction throughout Pakistan since 2013. The vast initiative is intended to rapidly upgrade Pakistan’s required infrastructure and strengthen its economy by the construction of modern transportation networks, numerous energy projects and special economic zones.
The key agreement for the projects to be listed under CPEC was signed in 2013, and term sheets for them were signed during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan in 2015.
In November of 2016, CPEC became partly operational when Chinese cargo was transported overland to Gwadar port for onward maritime shipment to Africa and West Asia.
Islamabad has so far received $25.4 billion in direct Chinese investment in various transport, energy, and infrastructure schemes under the flagship connectivity and investment corridor project, under the flagship connectivity and investment corridor project, part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.