CCG hosts Webinar: ‘China-Pakistan: The Way Forward’

November 26 , 2021

 

Beijing, 26 November 2021, Center for China and Globalization hosted the webinar ‘China-Pakistan: The Way Forward – Enhancing Regional Stability and Security under the Belt and Road Vision’. As China and Pakistan celebrate 70 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, this webinar served to deepen understanding of multiple dimensions of the cooperation, analyze and address existing challenges, and propose potential opportunities for the future.

 

Moreover, in light of regional developments and uncertainties including neighboring Afghanistan, CPEC’s significance as a source of connectivity and in promoting lasting peace in the region were also discussed. Additionally, key developments on infrastructure projects; significance of cultural, media and think tank cooperation; enabling trade and investments; as well as strategic threats and opportunities for both countries to cooperate on were proposed.

 

Opening Remarks:

 

President of Center for China and Globalization (CCG), Dr. Wang Huiyao, delivered opening remarks. He highlighted the importance of the relationship in furthering the Belt and Road Vision, and how China’s initiative is open to all countries in the world. He also emphasized that at the heart of BRI is promoting connectivity through mutual respect, mutual understanding, and a shared future for all of humankind through collective action. Improvement of lives of ordinary people in China, Pakistan and beyond, and further dialogue to promote greater synergy among people is central to CCG’s vision as a leading global think tank, he concluded.

 

Special Addresses:
 
Special addresses were delivered by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman of Senate’s Defence Committee; Ambassador Moin-ul-Haque, Ambassador of Pakistan to China; and Ambassador Riaz Khokhar, former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan.

Senator Mushahid Hussain underscored the importance of China and Pakistan’s friendship. With the emergence of the Asian Century, which seeks connectivity, the Belt and Road Initiative, seeks harmony and lasting peace in the world, is the most important diplomatic and developmental initiative of our time, he emphasized. He also stressed the need to support Afghanistan’s development and building a better Asia based on cooperation as opposed to confrontation.

Ambassador Moin-ul-Haque offered key insights on the progress under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, how CPEC is a game changer for Pakistan as a package of projects related to infrastructure and industrialization at large. He further presented recommendations for deepening economic, cultural, and people-to-people exchanges, and passing on the friendship to the coming generations.

Ambassador Riaz Khokhar analyzed emerging developments in the international order, the symbiotic relationship between geo-economics and geo-politics, and China’s significance in Eurasia, Asia-Pacific and beyond. He expanded on the global, regional and bilateral contexts, and how the Belt and Road Initiative is a brilliant visualization which proposes cooperation in holistic spheres. He further stressed the need to help Afghanistan amidst a humanitarian crisis which, if further aggravated, will have a ripple effect on the entire region.
 
Panel Discussions:
 
The panel discussions covered four key aspects of the relationship: CPEC projects; culture, media and think tanks; businesses and youth; and regional developments.
 
Opening the panel discussions, Ambassador Masood Khalid, former Ambassador of Pakistan to China (2013-2019), provided a comprehensive overview of key developments, and how steady and stable progress under CPEC has been made despite various problems and hiccups. Whereas size and scope of CPEC has been enhanced, and major infrastructure as well as mega projects have been successfully implemented, the success of Special Economic Zones will serve as a litmus test, he added. He further responded to critics and skeptics, clarifying that CPEC has helped Pakistan in meeting its developmental and infrastructure deficit. Ambassador Khalid concluded with recommendations moving forward, including further incorporation of cultural and tourism sectors in a more focused and targeted way, and the need to assume a proactive approach to continue the journey of friendship and remain on course for both sides.  
 
CPEC Projects:
Chairman Zhang Baozhong, Chairman and CEO of the China Overseas Ports Holding Company (COPHC), provided a tour of Gwadar Port and Free Trade Zone, illustrating the multi-dimensional developments in the port, free trade zone, and other socio-economic as well as environmental initiatives taken up to improve quality of life in Gwadar.

Hassan Daud Butt, CEO of KP-Board of Investment and former Project Director CPEC focused on the advancement of Special Economic Zones for the materialization of economic improvement in Pakistan. He stressed on the importance of attracting investors from China and world over to Pakistan, and elaborated on the policies and incentives currently in place to improve Pakistan’s investment attractiveness.
 
Culture, Media, and Think Tanks :
 
Wang Zihai, Director of Pakistan-China Center SCODA, Qingdao, who has extensive working experience in Pakistan previously as head of Qingqi, and is currently promoting culture and trade activities between China and Pakistan, also stressed on culture as an important industry. He emphasized that tourism has immense untapped potential between both countries, which can promote not only the cultural industries and mutual understanding, but also  trade, investor interest, and people-to-people exchanges.

Mustafa Hyder Sayed, Executive Director of Pakistan-China Institute, discussed the importance of media and think-tank exchanges on both sides. As partners in the CPEC Media Forum, and hosts of frequent exchanges and dialogues between China and Pakistan, he further elaborated the experience of PCI and their partners as an example in deepening bilateral exchanges and the BRI vision.
 
Businesses and Youth:

Benjamin Harburg, Managing Partner, MSA Capital, as a key investor in Pakistan elaborated on Pakistan’s innate attractiveness to the Chinese market, especially the role of a young population. He also recommended more exchanges between investors from China to encourage mutually profitable and beneficial ventures in the future.
Johnson Liu, Schwarzman Scholar; CEO of Brive Consulting, who had also previously led a delegation of young scholars to Pakistan for deeper study of CPEC, focused on the importance of youth exchanges and engaging youth from China, Pakistan as well as overseas to promote talented people to contribute more substantially. Based on his ongoing work to promote Chinese investments abroad he concluded with effective ways in which investors can be engaged towards a more successful utilization of SEZs under CPEC.
 
Regional Developments:

Imtiaz Gul, Qian Fang, and Ejaz Haider discussed the regional developments and how the bilateral cooperation needs to respond to ongoing uncertainties.

Imtiaz Gul, author and international relations expert, expressed the importance working together especially in the context of needed stabilization in Afghanistan. China and Pakistan must continue being candid and open with each other, avoid the potential of external complexities to affect the bilateral equation, and also prevent abuse and exploitation by providing instant explanations, he concluded.

Qian Feng, Director of Research and Development and Senior Research Fellow, National Strategy Institute, Tsinghua University, provided China’s foreign policy perspectives, and how China and Pakistan’s close relationship and deep trust can serve as a source of stability as well as opportunities to the region.

Ejaz Haider, a senior scholar and security studies expert, who was most recently Executive Editor at Indus News and hosted a policy show In Focus, concluded the panel. He discussed the shared interests in the China-Pakistan equation, including geography, principle of non-interference, ability to act together on issues of concern, and enhanced security for both through joint action. He also mentioned that the military interactions, economic and social cooperation, development initiatives including education, health, and energy, among others have been critical in defining a holistic relationship, with great potential. China seeks peace and connectivity, and in a fast changing world, both China and Pakistan face many similar challenges, but also the willingness to work together going forward, he added.
 
In conclusion, all participants expressed confidence in China-Pakistan relations and the potential of CPEC, under the Belt and Road Vision. They also addressed key challenges, and made policy recommendations in their areas of expertise, to facilitate smoother and more effective cooperation moving forward.  

 

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