A visit to persuade Chinese investors

Reassurance of fraternal ties

Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif  has recently paid a twin-purpose  visit to China –to hold meetings with the top leadership, and  also to pursue  Chinese investors  to come and invest in Pakistan in different sectors, assuring them very tight security  If all what had happened  at Shenzhen and Beijing    during his five-day visit  materializes  in due course of time, then it will augur well for the somewhat staggering  national economy besides further strengthening and promoting the existing time-tested, all-weather, mutually trustworthy and enviable neighbourly best possible relations .

This  was PM Shehbaz Sharif’s second visit to China after the  maiden one undertaken in November 2022 and the longest of all his foreign visits so far..The  visit  more importantly also  underscored Pakistan’s  commitment to the existing deepening ties, with the launching  of the next phase of great game changer China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), now in the second phase after successful completion of  the first phase.

He had gone to China to pursue the Chinese investors following an appreciable shift in his government’s policy, though in somewhat delayed manner, of seeking  investment and collaboration  and no more loans and aid from  friendly countries.

While the foreign investors and businessmen are quite willing to come and invest in different sectors in Pakistan, are we all ready to efficiently and actively take upon the massive workload that may be accruing  in a sincere, dedicated and committed  manner,  brushing aside our decades old unwelcome habits of  population growth, corruption and amassing  ill-gotten wealth by all means?

In the first part of his visit, he inaugurated the  Pak-China Business Conference in Shenzhen.He quite categorically and assertively  assured and pledged resources, support  to foreign investors  like never before  and vowed heightened security for Chinese citizens working in his country, prioritizing their safety..    

In Beijing itself, the visiting Pakistani leader  had very useful, free, in-depth  and frank meetings with President Xi Jinping,  Premier Li Qiqang  and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National Peoples’; Congress Zhao  Leji.. What transpired in these high-level  meetings  duly reflected the existing warmest, sincerest and mutually beneficial relations between the two countries.

While Pakistan reaffirmed its commitment to the one-China principle and reiterated  that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China, China reiterated its steadfast  support  to Pakistan in safeguarding its  sovereignty , national independence and territorial  integrity, in pursuing  a development path  suited to its  national conditions and also in its efforts for safeguarding the national security, stability, development  and prosperity, in firmly combatting terrorism and in playing  a bigger  role  in the regional and international affairs.

During these meetings, top Chinese and Pakistani leadership  agreed that both Pakistan and China are all weather strategic cooperative partners and iron brothers and have always understood, trusted and supported each other.. As regards CPEC,  the two sides  recognised  that it has been a pioneering project  of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)and after the successful completion  of the first phase, they were now committed  to carrying out  the eight major steps for supporting the high quality BRI cooperation,  forging an upgraded version of CPEC  by jointly building  a growth corridor,  a livelihood-enhancing corridor, an innovation  corridor,  a green corridor and an open corridor, aligning with Pakistan’s SME framework  based on exports, E-Pakistan,  Environment , Energy and Equity and  Empowerment  for benefiting both countries and their peoples, working together  and building CPEC into an exemplary project of BRI cooperation.

Pakistani and Chinese leaders also dilated upon the mega Railways project Main-Line (ML-1) envisaging rehabilitation and upgradation from Peshawar to Karachi, reaffirmed it as an important  project under the CPEC framework  which was  of strategic  significance to Pakistan’s  socio-economic  development,  and  agreed  to actively explore  advancing the project in a phased manner and start working on its financing modalities.

Needless to mention  here that the  ML-I project has been in doldrums for some time mainly due to its financing issue and China’s concessional  financing. Its cost has recently been downwardly revised from $ 10 billion to more than $ 6 billion and three phases have been reduced to two phases.

Details of what  had transpired and was agreed upon  during talks between the Pakistani and Chinese leaderships, covering the  vast spectrum   of bilateral relations and expansion of the  great game changer CPEC   to more sectors need more space and may be mentioned some other time.

As briefly mentioned above, the focus of the prime minister’s visit in a major attempt to push for  direly needed foreign  direct investment was to business-to-business meetings  and  a determined effort to upgrade the CPEC.

Most significantly and importantly, it was being pointedly stated here that a record number of as many as 55 agreements and MoUs were signed on two different occasions during the five days of the visit.

Out of these 23 agreements and MoUs covering  cooperation on CPEC, agriculture, infrastructure, industrial cooperation, inter-governmental  development assistance, market regulation, surveying, media, film, and such like  were signed in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif  at the impressive ceremony at the Great People’s Hall by the delegation members from both sides.

And 32 agreements and memorandum of agreements in the fields of  IT,  textiles, leather and footwear, minerals,  pharmaceuticals, agriculture and food processings  on the sidelines of the Pakistan  Business Conference in Shenzhen  following meetings between the visiting Pakistani businessmen  and host Chinese businessmen and investors.

While the foreign investors and businessmen are quite willing to come and invest in different sectors in Pakistan, are we all ready to efficiently and actively take upon the massive workload that may be accruing  in a sincere, dedicated and committed  manner,  brushing aside our decades old unwelcome habits of  population growth, corruption and amassing  ill-gotten wealth by all means?

 

Muhammad Zahid Rifat
Muhammad Zahid Rifat
The writer is Lahore-based Freelance Journalist, Columnist and retired Deputy Controller (News) , Radio Pakistan, Islamabad and can be reached at [email protected]

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Must Read

China ready to work with Pakistan on Global South development initiative:...

ISLAMABAD: Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Jiang Zaidong’s on Sunday said China was ready to work with Pakistan to “actively implement” its Global South initiative...

Age is just a number