– Says $2b Thar Coal project under the CPEC to achieve financial close next month
BEIJING, October 15: Bilawal Bhutto Zardari Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party told “Asian Political Parties Conference on Silk Road” in Beijing Wednesday that Pakistan was among the first to welcome – and recognize – the efforts of China in reshaping the international financial architecture with new institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the New Development Bank, and the Silk Road Fund.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari was addressing the 3-day Conference hosted by Community Party of China.
In his speech, PPP Chairman stated, “Given its vast economic clout, China clearly has a greater role in the global economic order. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, too, was conceived in pursuit of the Asian economic dream, with the objective of achieving shared prosperity on the basis of economic integration and collective development.”
He pointed out that as the Dragon stands poised to leap forward at the economic core of a vast region that houses 70 percent of the planet’s population, and the same percentage of known energy reserves, we know that competition for influence can’t be far behind. While the renminbi seeks to attain global reserve status, and Beijing mobilizes its foreign reserves to power up massive investment outlays, the world will continue to still size up this rising giant. Our own view is that no community or country should be challenged by this expanding circle of influence. This model of leadership need not be zero-sum. China’s organizational initiatives incorporate, complement, and build upon numerous existing institutions. What is important is that they do not uproot existing financial frameworks, but build on old and create new ones, he stressed.
PPP Chairman said the Silk Road, in its latest manifestation, is more than just a trade route or investment initiative that can transform regional futures; it is Beijing’s great strategic bid to spur growth and prosperity in the Eurasian landmass.
“On behalf of Pakistan, and its largest federal political party, the PPP, I rejoice at the warmth, trust and durability of our bilateral ties. When the world was busy misunderstanding China, I am proud to say that we in Pakistan, through three governments, from Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to Benazir Bhutto, and then President Zardari, ensured that Pakistan’s ties with the Peoples Republic of China always went through a surge in confidence and cooperation.
“Today, China’s “One Belt-One Road” project aims to bring into being a new economic order in the whole region around us, and beyond. Connecting from the Pacific to the Atlantic, Beijing’s ambition to build over 8000 kilometers of high-speed railways and related infrastructure, joining itself to other regions in Asia and Europe, is understandably the centre of much international attention.
“To my mind, it is remarkable that Chinese investment abroad has exceeded $100 billion plus in 2014. As we see it, China is in the process of becoming the world’s preeminent economy.
“Carried out according to vision, this belt will literally join two continents, Asia and Europe, an area with a population of 4.4 billion, and a current economic output of $21 trillion. Chinese goals and collaborative planning for Silk Road countries are exciting to see. They hope to inspire mergers, acquisitions, and green-field investments.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that as an avid student of Chinese growth, he had noted how over the last 20 years, China has poured in almost 9 percent of its GDP for the enhancement of domestic infrastructure. It can teach many of us a great deal about how to build and boost transportation and communications efficiency. In a bid for a future where the knowledge economy matters most, China has also invested in creating the world’s largest broadband network. This is no small feat, he applauded.
“President Xi Jinping’s assertive articulation of the One Belt-One Road vision makes it clear that the New Silk Road, both overland and maritime, will not be limited to the last century’s definitions of geo-politics alone. Whether it amounts to a Marshall Plan for the region it covers, or leaves a new footprint of soft power as it unfolds, a world hungry for partnering in leadership should welcome it.
“The China Pakistan Economic Corridor, that will link Kashgar in Xinjiang with the port of Gwadar in Balochistan, is just one – but a significant example – of this mutual objective. Early estimates suggest that the influx of Chinese investment will stimulate a 15 percent increase in Pakistan’s GDP by 2030. In fact, the first project to achieve financial close, in November this year, under the CPEC is a $ 2 billion joint venture to energize Thar Coal, located in the province of Sindh, where my party holds government.
“Given our history as allies and friends, Beijing has also extended support for other projects that Pakistan has been involved with under our leadership. Most notable among these is the Iran Pakistan gas pipeline, particularly as the Iran Deal opens new avenues for energy trade in the region. With China’s exclusive entry in the IP project, regional energy trade can take a critical turn.
“Beijing’s continued interest and investments in Gwadar also underscore its commitment to economic integration and collective regional development. More importantly for all of us in Pakistan, the CPEC will set a remarkable precedent as a joint infrastructural development project in the region that can significantly alter the economic landscape of developing areas in both China and Pakistan.
“It bears saying that within the region too, the Silk Route and other interfaces ensure that Pakistan and China are natural trading partners. Together, both our countries have laid a framework for trade integration that includes the elimination of tariff on goods, market access on services and promotion of investments. This is the future of free trade in the region.
“I realize that security concerns weigh heavy on all investment calculations. Please be assured that security is Pakistan’s principle focus right now, and that joint efforts are extensively underway to combat the global threat of borderless terrorism.
“Let me take this opportunity to remind my distinguished audience that today, Pakistan is fighting what can easily be termed as the biggest inland war against terrorism. We also know that Pakistan’s resolve is appreciated by our friends in Beijing who understand the complex and grave nature of this threat.
“We all know that terrorism is this century’s big emerging challenge, and it will require transboundary cooperation and global solutions. It is important to also understand that no one country can face it alone, or that all solutions will be solely military. Our non-NATO allies in Afghanistan have spent much blood and treasure there with far from optimal outcomes. They knew not what this summer would bring. This ramped up conflict and Taliban resurgence is a worry for Pakistan, since we see Afghan peace as vital to Pakistan’s hopes for prosperity in our own country and the region.
“Therefore, we are naturally heartened to see that China has joined Pakistan and the US in the search for bringing peace to a troubled Afghanistan. I truly hope that China’s new role in fostering collective security and regional peace in Kabul will open new doors for economic stability in a war-torn country.
“We all know that the New Silk Road will become the jugular vein it is meant to be if its investments in human and material capital are secure. The CPEC itself is a manifestation of Islamabad and Beijing’s joint vision to combat terrorism not only by committing military forces against it but also by applying the shared objective of expanding the circle of prosperity to underdeveloped and restive regions in many countries. Given the significance of this objective – placing strategic security within the realm of economic development and prosperity – Pakistan’s security establishment has repeatedly assured Chinese authorities that there would be no hurdles in the development of the CPEC. Beijing has also categorically brushed aside Indian apprehensions regarding the routing of the CPEC through Azad Kashmir. We are thankful for this breadth of vision.
“Before the honourable Chinese president’s visit to Islamabad this year, our Chief of Army Staff had visited Beijing, where he extended the Pakistan Army’s resolve to curb terrorism and apprised the Chinese leadership of successes notched up in Operation Zarb-e-Azb in dismantling the network of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). I am happy to note that last month, Pakistan and China also concluded the Joint Field Exercise Warrior – III.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that the Chinese vision for human security, economic cooperation, reform, joint prosperity, lies at the heart of international solutions to the turmoil and chaos the world faces today. “It is what will drive the project of peace in a world divided by inequities, conflicts and social disorder. I am confident that Pakistan will play a key role in bending history to this transformative mutual ideal,” he concluded.
Earlier, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto was warmly welcomed by the political leaders from different countries and took photographs. Political leaders from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal specially walked to Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and exchanged greetings.
PPP delegation comprised of former Ambassador to the United Nations Senator Sherry Rehman, former Deputy Speaker of National Assembly Faisal Karim Kundi and Political Secretary Jameel Soomro