- Chinese companies provided over 100,000 jobs to Pakistanis in CPEC’s first phase, says Li Bijian
KARACHI: Consul General (CG) of Peoples Republic of China Mr Li Bijian has said that the Chinese companies have provided over 100,000 direct jobs to Pakistani workers in the first phase of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Pakistanis would benefit with millions of more jobs in the second phase of the CPEC – the pilot project of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
“Other than contributing to power generation, bringing investments, generating employment and reviving Pakistani economy, the Chinese investors have also brought about a change in the social and economic transformation of Pakistan. Today, hope has defeated despair and Pakistani economy is being rated among a few thriving economies of the world,” said the Chinese diplomat in an exclusive interview with Pakistan Today.
Sitting in a cozy office and wearing traditional Chinese attire, the Chinese CG looked perturbed over the lack of appreciation of the contributions made by the Chinese workers and investors by a section Pakistani media.
The CG said that the Chinese companies have been contributing to the revival of Pakistani economy by purchasing large quantity of the local materials, enabling increasing the country’s exports and employing millions indirectly.
He said the Chinese companies have been contributing to the socio-economic development of Pakistan.
“Chinese companies have built infrastructure projects including highways, power plants, ports, airports and telecommunication facilities etc. Chinese companies also constructed roads, schools, hospitals, clinics, water treatment facilities in Pakistan. The local people have benefitted enormously from these projects,” he said.
Li Bijian said most of the projects of the first phase of CPEC have been completed including the upgradation of Karakorum Highway, Gwadar Port, Optic Fibre cable, dams and power plants which signify China’s contributions for Pakistan’s economic and social development.
The Chinese diplomat, however, lamented that despite all these contributions, there are elements who still blame China for every wrong they come across.
“We need to change the narratives regarding CPEC and China, Pakistan cooperation. We need to tell the people how Chinese companies are helping Pakistan. Chinese companies always adhere to the practice of doing more and speaking less as silence is a robust way to contribute to friendly countries. Outside media, however, plays its tricks and misleads people,” he said.
He said it’s an irony that the outside media says that Chinese companies did no good to Pakistan and some certain people buy the false claims.
“The same western countries refused to come and invest in Pakistan when Pakistan needed the foreign investments. Finally, it were the Chinese who came to Pakistan back in year 2013 when Pakistan was facing worst power shortages was at its peak,” he asserted.
Li said Pakistanis must acknowledge whatever we have done for Pakistan. “Pakistani people must have a sense of appreciation for the Chinese companies. Pakistani people should not be misled by the false outside media propaganda so easily,” he added.
He said that some western media always tries to tarnish the good work done by China in Pakistan.
“Pakistanis must have a sense of justice. Pakistanis must know that things have changed a lot and the whole country of Pakistan has benefited a lot since the CPEC started”.
“When the Chinese companies came here, Pakistan was facing worst times due to load shedding and Pakistani industry was shifting to other countries and investors were moving to Bangladesh, UAE and even India. Now after almost eight years, Pakistan has transformed in power generation and you have surplus electricity today. With exports and incomes growing, Pakistani economy is rising again – thanks to the CPEC,” he said.
Mr Li Bijian deplored the fact that some sections of the Pakistani media, perhaps under the influence of the outside propaganda, also have been making negative reports on CPEC.
“But we don’t care much and would keep working for the welfare of the people of Pakistan. The Chinese engineers and staff stations here have been sacrificing their lives and making great efforts for Pakistan. Most of them have been away from their families for the past two years in this age of pandemic. They couldn’t go and meet their families in China and contributed to help implement CPEC projects on time,” he said.
“The sacrifices, dedications and contributions by China need to be acknowledged by Pakistani people,” he said and added that the Chinese investors and workers are badly hurt when they see some Pakistani media speaking the language of the unfriendly forces.
The senior diplomat warned that if this situation continues to remain like this, the Chinese investors may be scared away.
“Eventually, Pakistani people would suffer if the Chinese investments also go. This insensitive attitude towards Chinese companies may prove detrimental to the interests of Pakistan and its people. CPEC authority should do something on this,” he added.
Asked if the Pakistan government was of any help in changing the narratives, the Chinese diplomat said that words need to be supplemented by actions.
Balochistan special destination for Chinese investments
Chinese Consul General mentioned some projects recently launched to help support the people of Balochistan including blood transfusion center in Quetta and the study center for supporting women of Balochistan.
“Balochistan is sparsely populated province of Pakistan with around 43 percent of the total area of Pakistan. The province has also a special historical background. We are trying to reach-out to maximum people and offering poverty alleviation projects. Some of the projects are in Gwadar. Gwadar Institute of Vocational Training has been completed and handed over to the Pakistan government. The trainees would be recruited in February this year,” he said.
“Gwadar Port is in operations for several years but its capacity has not been fully utilized. The authorities are putting in efforts to get more business and transit cargos last year started destined for Afghanistan and some central Asian states,” he said.
“LNG terminal has been also installed and operational. We hope that the people of Balochistan would benefit a lot with the completion of other key projects like Gwadar New International Airport, East Bay Express Way and the Gwadar Friendship Hospital”.
He said the local people of Gwadar should be patient and wait for the completion of these projects.
“There should not be expectations that things would change in Gwadar overnight. Gwadar transformation would require some time. They should have rational attitude towards the projects as transformation requires adequate timeframe”.
He said that the Southern pilot area of Gwadar Free Zone have so far attracted a few score of companies and operating well. He said that the Northern area of the Free Zone has been opened for investment.
“A fertilizer project has been recently started the initial work and making progress. It has been highly convinced that more investors shall come and start their business. All these efforts would add to the fortunes of the people of Balochistan”.
Mentioning mineral development projects in Balochistan, Chinese Consul General Li Bijian said that the local people have benefitted hugely from China’s mineral development projects in Saindak and Duddar.
Li said that the Chinese companies working on these two projects have been working hard on social uplift of the locals under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) mandate. He said that the locals have been provided with almost all basic necessities including water, electricity, schools, clinics and roads. They are benefiting hugely through these projects, he added.
He said that the people of Hub were also benefiting from Hub Power Plant in Lasbela area of Balochistan. He said that the electricity produced by the Chinese power plant has been connected to the national grid through transmission line and continuously providing energy to the smooth operation of the gigantic economic powerhouse of Pakistan.
He said that China has also been contributing to the social development of Balochistan in education and health sectors.
He said that China International Development Cooperation Agency has been giving specific focus for the social and economic development of Balochistan, and some “small but beautiful” projects including schools, clinics, water, power and training etc. shall be implemented in due course.
He said China, in collaboration with the Pakistani side has decided to provide solar panels to the local people in Gwadar to help them meet their needs of electricity.
Li Bijian said that the people to people exchange Program has been badly hit by the pandemic. He said China plans to restart the project once the pandemic comes to an end. So far, he said, around scores of delegations of officials, tribal leaders, students and youth have been invited to China from Balochistan. He said this process would continue.