China, Pakistan identify five new corridors under CPEC at 13th JCC

ISLAMABAD: China and Pakistan have identified five new corridors under China, Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) at the 13th session of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC).

Five new corridors for Phase 2 of CPEC which includes Growth Corridor, Economic Development Projects Corridor, Innovation Corridor, Green Corridor, and Regional Connectivity Corridor. All these five corridors are in line with Pakistan’s economic development framework, the Five Es and Vision 2025, for which Pakistan strives.

Federal Minister Professor Ahsan Iqbal hailed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a milestone of friendship between Pakistan and China, providing a strong foundation for economic cooperation.

Addressing the media after the 13th session of the Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC), the minister highlighted the progress made under CPEC, including the revival of projects in Gwadar and the identification of five new corridors for Phase 2 of CPEC.

He also acknowledged the challenges faced by CPEC, including the slowdown in progress after 2018 and the impact of climate change, floods, and the corona virus pandemic on Pakistan’s economy.

He said CPEC has provided this friendship with a strong foundation for economic and economic cooperation, from 2013 to 2018, 25 billion dollars were invested in Pakistan under CPEC.

Ahsan Iqbal said that the journey of CPEC slowed down after 2018 due to change of government. Criticism of CPEC during this period caused big investors to leave Pakistan, as a result of which Pakistan suffered huge losses in investment. Further damage to Pakistan’s economy was caused by severe climate changes, floods and corona virus.

While highlighting the projects in Gwadar, the minister said that during the 16- months government tenure in Gwadar, water, electricity projects and dredging projects of Gwadar port were reactivated. Owing to the lack of dredging of Gwadar port, the depth of Gwadar port was reduced by one and a half meters due to which big ships could not anchor. The government completed this work in 6 months.

Similarly, the transmission line from Iran was brought to Gwadar. Gwadar was also got connected to the National Grid through a transmission line for the first time. Pipeline connection from Gwadar dam to supply more brackish water. With these steps, China has regained its confidence in Pakistan to continue CPEC with renewed rigour.

He also said that the Deputy Prime Minister of China visited Pakistan on the completion of 10 years of CPEC.

In the thirteenth JCC, it was reiterated to work on developing projects. These projects include Azad Patan project and Kohala project.

These projects will provide 1800 MW of hydel energy to Pakistan. Concrete announcements regarding these projects are expected during the visit of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to China. Besides, in the light of the economic situation of Pakistan, the ML1 project of CPEC was revised.

The cost of the project has been reduced from $10 billion to $6.8 billion. The ML1 project will be constructed in phases. Its purpose is to enable implementation in accordance with the economic laws of Pakistan.

Reply to a question, the minister said that China’s patience and collaboration despite delays is commendable, as they understand Pakistan’s economic situation. He shared that due payments will be cleared at the earliest and instructions had already been given to relevant departments.

The minister answered that the basic infrastructural length is same but time/speed for completion will be increased as the project will be materialized in multiple phases.

To a question inquiring how much loss CPEC projects had suffered during PTI tenure, Minister said that the progress on CPEC projects had regressed by at least 10 years.

Furthermore, the minister said that the decision to use local coal instead of imported coal will help promote the vision of incorporating green economy, 300 Megawatt Gwadar coal will fulfill local demand for fuel along the Makran coast region and 1800 MGW will fulfill remaining demand through Kohala and Azad Pattan projects. These two projects will take 6-8 years until completion, he added.

He shared that National Energy Administration of China will visit Pakistan to prepare recommendations to reduce power losses during project construction phases. They will also make solutions to convert regular energy efficiently into green energy.

He also said that Pakistan’s economic progress is now depended on consistent increase in agricultural and industrial exports. Pakistan has already started exporting wheat, livestock, beef and fruits to China.

One questioner raised concern over the fact that previous government had halted construction of road from Thakot onwards and 3000 workers in Kohistan had lost lives.

The minister assured that no progress on any CPEC project will be halted by present government. He also stressed that strict security measures have been taken to protect all labourers in collaboration with Interior ministry.

While summarizing priority areas under CPEC phase 2, he said that the new phase will focus on advancement of agriculture, science and technology, and IT. As a result of 13th JCC, two new working groups had been added: Working Group on Water Resources, and a Working Group on Climate change. Considering that Pakistan is the world’s 7th most vulnerable country due to impact brought by climate change, the inclusion of these new working groups will help devise innovative solutions to combat adverse effects of climate.

The minister also stressed that the potential of mineral resources of Balochistan will be explored on priority, adding that the government had revived Reko Diq project.

During this JCC, both sides agreed on materializing Saudi Arabia and China’s investments in mining sector. Citing development of Panjkot-Mashkhel mineral corridor as a significant proposal during this JCC, he expressed confidence in Balochistan becoming the mining capital of Pakistan.

Mian Abrar
Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He tweets as @mian_abrar and also can be reached at [email protected]

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