No Pakistani worker was laid off during the pandemic from any China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, said China’s Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong while addressing a webinar on Thursday.
Commemorations marking 70 years of the Pakistan-China diplomatic ties were kicked off with the webinar organised by the Pakistan-China Institute under the banner of "Friends of Silk Road", which had distinguished speakers from Pakistan and China.
Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Nong Rong said China has so far invested $25.4 billion in CPEC since its inception, creating 75,000 jobs for Pakistanis.
The ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong thanked Pakistan for its consistent support to China during the past decades. He said the bilateral relationship was being further cemented through mutual support and high-level consultations and visits.
The ambassador said Pakistan is the first country to get a donation of the Chinese Covid-19 vaccine. He said the bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will strive to narrow the trade deficit and deepen economic cooperation.
Ambassador Nong Rong added that the upcoming meeting of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC), which is the apex body on CPEC, will focus on socio-economic development, industry, and agriculture. He said 100 million Chinese had benefited from the elimination of rural poverty in China.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee former chairman and ex-ISI DG General (retd) Ehsan ul Haq described security cooperation as a significant core area of Pakistan-China relations.
He said that 75 to 80 percent of Pakistani defence equipment comes from China and Pakistan accounts for 35 percent of China's military exports. He said that China has a proven track record of reliability and Pakistan-China relations had now moved forward from geopolitics into geoeconomics, socioeconomic development, human security, and soft power.
UN former Under-Secretary-General and China-Pakistan Friendship Association President Ambassador Sha Zukang said Pakistan is the most important country in the region for China. He said Pakistan-China relations will blossom in today's world and that a strong Pakistan is good for stability in the region and the world.
Pakistan's Ambassador to UN Munir Akram termed China as the pivot of Pakistan's Foreign Policy. He said Pakistan is the strongest defender of China's territorial integrity.
He said Pakistan-China policies are completely aligned in South Asia, in the Indian Ocean, in Central Asia, in the Asia-Pacific region.
Former Ambassador of Pakistan to China Masood Khalid said China's rise is an established reality. He also narrated how 50 years ago, despite China's own difficulties during the Cultural Revolution, China provided invaluable support to building Pakistan's heavy industrial base worth almost $300 million, which, he said, in today's world would be a sum in billions.
Former Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua quoted Chinese President Xi Jinping as telling the Pakistani prime minister in 2019 in Beijing that "no matter how the international situation changes, China will always stand firmly with Pakistan".
Senator Mushahid Hussain said people-to-people relations are the core of the Pakistan-China bond. He termed CPEC as a success story whose results are obvious in the resolution of Pakistan's long-standing electricity shortages, greater inter-provincial connectivity through roads and motorways, the functioning of the Gwadar Port which is now emerging as the hub of regional connectivity with Afghanistan and Central Asia
Pakistan China Institute Executive Director Mustafa Sayed, who moderated the online event, termed China as a champion of the developing world and he also lauded China's poverty alleviation strategy which is "an example that developing countries can follow".
Published in The Express Tribune, April 2nd, 2021.