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CPEC fastest ‘Belt and Road’ project: Chinese diplomat


6/21/2017
ISLAMABAD: Zhao Lijian, the deputy chief of Mission at the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, on Tuesday said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was one of the best performing projects of the 'Belt and Road' Initiative (BRI).
He was speaking at a conference on 'Belt and Road Initiative and CPEC' organised by Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), an Islamabad based think tank, on the occasion of the inauguration of its (SVI's) China Studies Centre.
Lijian said CPEC was the "fastest and most effective" among the projects being undertaken as part of BRI. "CPEC's has 19 early harvest projects worth $18.5 billion. We are making smooth progress towards their completion," he said.
The multi-billion dollar CPEC project, which is being jointly undertaken by Pakistan and China, prioritises development of Gwadar, energy projects, transport infrastructure and industrial cooperation. Lijian said the second 660MW unit of Sahiwal Coal-fired Power Plant had completed its test run and was ready for inauguration. The first unit of the Sahiwal plant had been inaugurated by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on May 24. With the inauguration of the second unit, the whole plant's output will increase to 1320 MWs.
The Chinese diplomat said that Port Qasim Coal-fired Power Plant was also expected to be completed this year. "Three wind farms in Sindh were also nearing completion," he said.
Lijian said the bidding process for Eastbay Expressway, which would link Gwadar Port with the main national highway network, was in the final stages and its groundbreaking ceremony would be performed this year. "Work on Gwadar International Airport is also expected to commence this year," he said.
The Grant Agreement on Gwadar Airport and Framework Accord on Eastbay Expressway were signed during PM Nawaz Sharif's visit to China last month for attending the Belt and Road Forum.
Secretary Ministry for Planning, Development and Reforms Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui said that CPEC epitomised the growing mutuality of interest and vision of shared politico-economic future of Pakistan and China. "Eeffective and timely implementation of the projects is critical for the overall BRI timeline," he said.
CPEC's Project Director Hassan Daud Butt said CPEC would "speed up industrialisation and urbanisation of Pakistan so that it could grow into an inclusive and prosperous country. He emphasised on mobilisation of all resources; maintaining national unity, consensus, and political stability; and doubling efforts for eradicating terrorism for timely completion of CPEC projects.
SVI President Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema said China was not only playing an important role in development and security of Pakistan, but had an important influence in the entire region and beyond. "CPEC is an unparalleled plan for development, regional connectivity, industrialisation and infrastructure development," he said.
Introducing his think tank's China Studies Center, Dr Cheema said: "It will endeavour to study Pakistan-China relations, role of China in South Asia and beyond, besides carrying out an in-depth research on security, economic, development, political aspects of BRI and CPEC and their impact on regional integration."