Revival of Silk Route to benefit Pakistan: Chinese minister

Published: April 30, 2012
Ai Ping claims the region can become a peaceful hub for transcontinental trade. PHOTO: INP/ FILE

Ai Ping claims the region can become a peaceful hub for transcontinental trade. PHOTO: INP/ FILE


Revival of the ancient Silk Route can benefit Pakistan’s ailing economy, if the country upgrades its infrastructure along modern lines, says a Chinese minister.

“The Silk Route was a famous trade route in the ancient times. This proves that we have a long history of trade. Nowadays, the form of trade has changed. It needs to be developed along modern lines. I hope that this can benefit Pakistan’s economic development,” Ai Ping, Chinese Vice-Minister of the International Department Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC), told The Express Tribune in an exclusive interview.

Ai shared his personal views about the issues faced by Pakistan, its relationship with China and emphasised on improving trade relations to strengthen the entire region.

After development of its eastern side, China is now focusing on developing its western region by investing billions of dollars. Chinese authorities said the western parts, particularly Xinjiang that borders Pakistan, will be the focus of development. The area is being linked with the rest of the country through state-of-the-art communication networks.

In a recent article, Pakistan’s Ambassador in Beijing Masood Khan said Pakistan can turn into the most important westward artery for China’s exports, as it builds a Eurasian bridge. Pakistan’s ports can shrink distances between China, the Middle East and Africa.

However, Ai said Pakistan can benefit by upgrading its airports, highways, railway networks and ports and the two countries can cooperate to not only help boost Pakistan’s economy but also open new vistas of cooperation, including power generation, between the two countries, he added.

He hoped that after the pullout of US-led Nato forces from Afghanistan, there will be chances of bringing peace to the war-torn country and improving economic cooperation. According to analysts, Pakistan might lose important US aid following the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, but it is possible to turn the region into a peaceful commercial hub for transcontinental trade — reminiscent of the ancient Silk Route. On the reported complaints against extremists using terrorist bases on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border for training to create disturbances in China, Ai claimed that there is a general impression in China that Pakistan has been very supportive in fighting extremists. However, he added there can be some elements that are beyond the Pakistan government’s control.

“Some people say this war on terror was imposed on Pakistan. My personal opinion is that Pakistan is a victim of terror attacks. Pakistani people and the government are fighting against these evils. Pakistan is entitled to more support in the fight against terrorists,” he claimed.

On the issue of Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project and US opposition to it, Ai gave candid remarks. “I think now there are some arguments about tensions… Even US intelligence operatives so far are not sure whether Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. I believe Iran has the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, so I do not know why this project is controversial,” he said. “But once again this is my personal opinion. I am not speaking on behalf of the Chinese government,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (23)

  • Hasan Awan
    Apr 30, 2012 - 9:53AM

    There is no enemy or a friend in this world. If someone is helping you then they know they are benefiting in return. The Silk route will give China a transit route to Central Asia. Pakistan in return should see their interests and should not allow Chinese trucks to come in Pakistan rather we should establish Dry Ports in Bordering regions so that Chinese goods could be off loaded at borders and then Pakistani trucks and local men will be used for transport of goods and in this manner Pakistan could be benefit itself by local employment generation of thousands of people and engagement of local business community in transport of goods.
    It will be biggest mistake of Pakistan if we will open our borders to Chinese trucks without establishing Dry Ports as otherwise we will acts just a road who will collect Toll tax from Chinese and only Chinese will benefit from it.


  • usman786
    Apr 30, 2012 - 10:05AM

    ask Chinese to build motorway till Gawadar as its in their advantage and US to build Khi – Peshawar.


  • Raw is War.
    Apr 30, 2012 - 11:23AM

    How? By supplying tea and samosas to passing truck drivers?


  • WhatisThetruth
    Apr 30, 2012 - 11:45AM

    The article indicates how sold the rulers are to their US-centric position. The chinese seem to be begging for a route to gwadar, and we could play them off against the US. Indeed, a little political vision would indicate how critical Pakistan is to the current conflict between the US/China and Russia. Our rulers seem to be so occupied playing one political party against the other, but unable to play one the game at a higher level.


  • Pakistani
    Apr 30, 2012 - 11:45AM

    Yes, China is our best friend, We are proud to be friend of china, Long live Pak-China friendship


  • maiden
    Apr 30, 2012 - 11:54AM

    Interesting interview and important for Pakiistan – but this is an interview only with ET, so how is the first and top most headline? Because of its importance or exclusivity


  • huzaifa
    Apr 30, 2012 - 12:01PM

    Already, a huge deficit is there between china and Pakistan trade volume. Opening of the route is a very lucrative segment of intra continental trade, recently China petroleum has secured big projects in Afghanistan and they are thinking of next 100 years. Now is the chance for Pakistani think tanks (If some body is there) to negotiate the tariffs and terms favorable to Pakistan keeping in view next 20 years at least. China has the option of Pamir route but it is detrimental to good going through out the year. The suggestion of making the roads or motor ways by foreign powers is always has draw backs as we have to sacrifice on tariffs which goes a long way. When some body will invest huge amount definitely it can either be profitable for investing party and never be good for us. First we should build the infrastructure and then invite others who are already in need on our terms.


  • Gilgit- Baltistan
    Apr 30, 2012 - 12:25PM

    We proud being a neighbour of Great China, and we Gilgit-Baltistan Peoples thanks to China to allow to enter into china with a Pass instead of Visa etc.


  • Usman
    Apr 30, 2012 - 12:34PM

    If the country upgrades its infrastructure along modern lines…..


  • True Muslim Paki
    Apr 30, 2012 - 1:23PM

    China wants to use our strategic position and we should OK it provided following terms are accepted by chinese:-
    1. End oppression Uighur Muslims
    2. Allow Pakistani`s a Visa free system to China to live & work in China.
    3. Allow cultural, religion exchanges and no restriction on religious activities in China.
    4. Build infrastructure in Pakistan free of cost. US gave huge amount aid but china has never done & pakistan has always supported china & gave land to china.
    5. No Duties on imports from Pakistan into china.
    6. Waive off all loans & provide arms.
    7. China to take back all chinese involved in immoral in Pakistan like massage parlours etc. We should allow all other business but not these kinds of anti religious activities.


  • dasmir
    Apr 30, 2012 - 2:21PM

    Pakistan should not be told what is or what isn’t in their interest.Or pakistan’s friend real take pakistanis so dumb that they need telling about their own interst?
    China/Us/Saudi Arabia/UAE give us a break!


  • faraz
    Apr 30, 2012 - 2:21PM

    Why doesn’t China use Karachi port which is few hundred miles from Gawadar. The “great strategic importance” of Gawadar is a myth. And China already has border with Central Asia; why would it first enter Pakistan and Afghanistan to enter Central Asia?


  • antanu g
    Apr 30, 2012 - 2:44PM

    @True Muslim Paki:
    your terms are ridiculous…business are never done on these lines. no country is providing charity to others. its always give and take in such relations.And whatever about Ulghur muslims, its china’s internal matter and should be any body’s concern.remember pakistan wants china most and not other way round.


  • M. Siddiq
    Apr 30, 2012 - 3:22PM

    @Hasan Awan: where you live dude! KKH will not connect China to Central Asia but Middle East. there is a dry port in the Pakistani bordering village of called SUST Dry Port where goods are off loaded and Pakistani trucks carry them forward.


  • Khan
    Apr 30, 2012 - 3:24PM

    @Raw is War.:
    No one is stopping us from running own business .. if you think they have better products to sell to other countries then strive to make better and cheaper than theirs, if we can not do that we can at least tax any thing passing by when using our infrastructure.


  • abbas
    Apr 30, 2012 - 5:07PM

    @True Mulsim Paki – Sorry to say but as beggers (which we have become) our choices are very limited and we are not in that bargaining position as you assume it to be. Pak needs china more than they need us so i am afraid but your wish list is too long to be practical.

    And btw what do you need arms for. Thr is enough already wid each and every Pakistani. Situation is such that for the past 4 days your police can not enter a neighbourhood in Khi bocz of fierce resistence and arms these pple have


  • ather
    Apr 30, 2012 - 6:42PM

    please govt don’t lose this chance. we need economic development. china is our only true friend. we should help china will help us too.


  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Apr 30, 2012 - 7:16PM

    The idea of making Pskistan an intercontinental trade hub is not bad . Invite Chineese investment in this regard as west will be a litle bit hesitant to invest in Pakistan for the next ten years at lesst but they will be customer to pay tarrif for their route to afghanistan . India will be also a good customer fer Chineese and Pakistani , so go ahead . But the success of this dream project greately depends on our success in making Pakistan a terrorists free zone . Recommend

  • Jahanzeb
    Apr 30, 2012 - 8:15PM

    @Dr.A.K.Tewari: But the success of this dream project greatly depends on our success in making Pakistan a terrorists free zone .
    I am quite surprised Pakistan did not invent, Financed, and supported TAMIL TIGERS which created havoc in SRI LANKA for 30 long years and finally they killed its creator. Who was the terrorist Regime then who created them? SRI LANKA? Whose territory was infested by these Hindu Tamil Terrorists trained & Financed By the Hindu Regime of India. Then what terrorism RAW did in, then east Pakistan ,in the form of Invasion, was an open act of STATE TERRORISM. What Hindu Regime has been doing in Kashmir for the last 30 years, with mass graves discovered, is a clear act of State terrorism by any law of the world and UN charter. Hindu Regime’s started active support through Financing and physical Training ( In the same manner as they did in 1971 in East Pakistan) of BLA in 1979 when Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan . Hindu Regime never let go any opportunity to dismember and harm Pakistan. 10 Long years Hindu regime , under the umbrella of Soviet Union, promoted terrorism in Balochistan which , after the defeat of the Soviet Union disappeared because Hindu regime had to withdraw its State terrorism Resources from Afghanistan due to Taliban rule. And Now, for the last 10 years, Hindu terrorist regime is exactly repeating the same by Supporting, training, financing and injecting trained terrorist in Balochistan due to which Law and order is at minimum there, but this time under the supervision of NATO. Dr. Tiwari, you and your Hindu Regime are the real Terrorists in this region. Its not Pakistan but Hindu Indian regime that needto change its Philosophy state Terrorism in the region.If you really want some central Asian trade through Pakistan, then Hindu regime has to let go the path of terrorism in South Asia. I can guarantee you that time for your Hindu State terrorism is over in this region. Even Nato and US are negotiating with Afghans and Your Hindu State terrorism Assets in Afghanistan are simply matter of time to be uprooted again. It’s better that you come out of that mentality and see the region through the eyes of reality. Days of your Hindu State terrorism are over. I think development of Chinese West zone is a good news to all the central Asian States and Pakistan as well. I am sure soon Afghan will decide their own destiny in Afghanistan , This zone will become a Real Silk Route Zone again. Now, If your Regime want to a part of it, it only depends upon your State’s desire how quickly it shuts down all the open TERRORIST Projects in South Asia. Recommend

  • Abdul Qayyum Bhatti
    Apr 30, 2012 - 9:45PM

    @ Dr.A.K.Tewari
    There are:
    36 terrorist organizations in Asam,
    39 terrorist organizations in Manipur,
    4 terrorist organizations in Meghalaya,
    3 terrorist organizations in Nagaland,
    12 terrorist organizations in Punjab,
    30 terrorist organizations in Tripura,
    2 terrorist organizations in Mizoram,
    1 terrorist organizations in Arunachal Pradesh,
    6 Left-wing Extremist groups
    and 9 other terrorist Organizations.
    I have not included the Tamil Nadu (LTTE).
    I have not included Chattisgarh where 72 federal Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed by Left-wing Maoist rebels on 6 April 2010.
    I have not included Maharashtra where 15 Police were killed by Maoist rebels on 27 March 2012.
    The all of the above data is provided by India based research organization listed below:

    Now you should have to replace INDIA instead of Pakistan in your statement of “Pakistan a terrorists free zone”. Recommend

  • its (still) the economy stupid
    Apr 30, 2012 - 9:51PM

    Why stop at Silk Road why not also upgrade GT road and link to India and Afghanistan side of GT road. Pakistan can get FREE upgrade of its road infrastructure in exchange for allowing India road connectivity to Afghanistan, Iran and beyond. India is already undertaking such a project in Iran. Ah it will be hard for policy makers to think out side the box and keep ADB, World Bank and IMF at bay. This will be a new sources of aid.


  • unbeliever
    Apr 30, 2012 - 9:54PM


    so much hatred for hindus, why? well afterall you ruled us for 1000 years, you should take pity on your former subjects.

    and if you can’t sympathise with us, then stop complaining.

    if the hindu state is so vile, then mark my words, this is only the first 65 years of your tryst with us. prepare yourself, for a long drawn battle. the only difficulty is the war this time will hardly be faught with outdated swords and guns, but with the ‘despicable organ’ of our body called brainRecommend

  • You Said It
    May 1, 2012 - 3:03PM

    Pakistan is entitled to more support in the fight against terrorists,” he claimed.

    Yes, like the billions in aid that China gives to us every year to support our fight against the terrorists??? Or is it coalition support funds that China has been paying for our cooperation in handing over every fellow muslim Uyghur we can find who strays across the border? Long Live Pakistan China Friendship!! Which by the way, like the Pakistan-China trade is completely uni-directional.


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