China’s ties exceptional with Pakistan, committed to take CPEC to a higher stage of development – says Dr Chen, Chief Economist of top Chinese think tank
Islamabad, roundtable discussion was organised by the Pakistan-China Institute (PCI) today to discuss, “CPEC: The Way forward”. The roundtable had keynote by Dr. Chen Wenling, Chief Economist of China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), affiliated with the State Council in Beijing, which is directly under Premier Li Keqiang.
Addressing the participants, Dr. Chen Wenling said, “China took a lot of time and invested a lot of hard work in reaching where it is today. China lifted 700 million people out of poverty and raised life expectancy to 85 years from 40 years.” She said that China wants to see Pakistan progressing similarly and for this purpose China will always support Pakistan, with China has a relationship that is ‘exceptional’ and these special ties are with no other country. She further said that Pakistan’s agricultural capacity should be utilized to stimulate growth and that she would want to see rapid development under CPEC alongside the route from Kashgar to Gwadar. Dr. Chen Wenling also specifically focused on strengthening the Renminbi by trading in Chinese currency and subsequently improving the value of the Pakistani Rupee, which suffered significantly against the US dollar. Referring to the two countries, she emphasized that, “We must not get influenced by the pressures imposed by the external forces and continue to strengthen our bilateral relations.”
Appreciating Dr. Chen Wenling’s views, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman of the Pakistan-China Institute and the Chairman of Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, said that during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan in 2015, 52 agreements were signed between the two countries to expedite work on CPEC, and thus Pakistan had already rejected any external pressure as it a resilient country that has resisted such pressures in the past. He was thankful to China for such unflinching support and commitment towards Pakistan.
Lt. Gen. (R) Asad Durrani, ex-DG ISI, also reassured Dr. Chen Wenling that Pakistan is capable of withstanding all forces against CPEC. He said, “Pakistan has resisted external pressure in the past and will be doing so in the future as well…The trust between Pakistan and China will help sustain CPEC and Pak-China relations.” He concluded by saying, “There are no two countries that trust each other more, like Pakistan and China do.”
Dr. Manzoor Ahmed, Chairman Pakistan LNG, who has previously served as the Ambassador of Pakistan to WTO, contributed to the valuable discussion by saying that, “Pakistan needs to improve international trade as no country can progress if it remains a closed economy.” He further added that, “We as a nation will never grow if we do not promote competition.” Moreover he stated that, “CPEC is a great opportunity for Pakistan but we need to initiate reforms internally to keep our pace with CPEC.”
The roundtable was also enriched by the views of notable personalities including Dr. Shahid Rashid, Executive Director, CPEC Centre of Excellence, Mr. Siraj Ahmed Khan, Director CPEC, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Talat Shabbir, Director China-Pakistan Study Centre at the Institute of Strategic Studies, and Mr. Zhao Lijian, Deputy Chief of Mission, Chinese Embassy.