China and Pakistan intend to unveil the tremendous potential of the “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”, and they aim to make it a regional link center. This came in a statement by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, after the second meeting of the strategic conversation among the foreign ministers of the two countries. The foreign ministers of the two countries met in the Chinese province of Hainan, within the framework of the second meeting of the strategic dialogue. In the statement, the ministry stated that the two sides discussed during the meeting bilateral relations, regional and international issues. The ministry indicated that China and Pakistan will continue to make strong progress in building the economic corridor, completing CPEC investment projects under construction on time, and strengthening cooperation in special economic zones.
As we know China and Pakistan signed an agreement for the joint economic corridor project “CPEC” between the two countries, at a total cost of $ 64 billion, which would change the international balance of power in the region. The project aims to link “Xinxiang”, a strategically important Chinese province in the northwest of the country, with the Pakistani port of Gwadar, through a network of roads, railways, and pipelines to transport goods, oil, and gas. The project would provide China with the lowest transportation costs to Africa and the Middle East, while it would return billions of dollars to Pakistan for providing transit facilities to the second-largest economy in the world.
In this regard, Pakistani Senator Muhammad Talha talks, in an interview with Anatolia, about the strategic importance of the project, and its expected contribution to strengthening the economy of his country and the region, in addition to other issues. Talha, who is head of the Economic Corridor Project Board from the Pakistani side, says that the project carries great strategic importance, and that it will contribute to strengthening the economy of Pakistan and the region, as well as organizing transmission and delivery lines for energy sources. With regard to the project phases, Talha notes, it includes two basic steps, the first will be taken in the short term, and the second in the long term, without clarification.
He states that facilitating the transfer and delivery of energy resources, “will contribute very positively in the short term to the growth of the Pakistani economy, but the most important contributions of the project bin Qasim city will be taken in the long term in the form of steps.”
It is noteworthy that 29 industrial cities will be built along the path of the economic corridor, which will secure many job opportunities, and thus achieve economic development and increase the level of welfare in the country.
In the same regard, Talha talks about a project launched by his country in 2015 and recently completed, with the aim of forming an electricity generation system that includes securing energy sources from coal, sun, water and wind, in projects he said are “complementary to the Economic Corridor project, especially the solar and coal energy projects.”
Currently, work is underway to establish lakes on waterways and to establish hydroelectric stations, which will contribute when entering the phase of generating electricity from them, and the cost of electricity in the country will significantly decrease, according to the official.
Regarding the position of the United States of America on the project, Talha says that “the project did not like Washington one day, and it will not like it in the future either.”
He continues, however, “but this is the state of international politics. There are always friends and enemies.”
On his vision of the international balance of power, Talha pointed out that “the United States and China have strong economies, economic and trade relations.”
In acknowledgment to a question regarding the Pakistani people’s position on the spread of many Chinese in their country within the core of the project, Talha clarifies that the Chinese will not be free to roam the country, but rather, they will have to obtain permission from the Ministry of Interior to visit sensitive places in particular.
Talha reveals that his country has formed a special security team that includes members of the police, army and Special Forces, with the aim of preserving the security of the Economic Corridor project.
Speaking about the relations between his country and Turkey, Talha notes that he is the head of the friendship group between the parliaments of the two countries, while the Turkish group is headed by the deputy from the state of Gaziantep, Ali Sahin B.
He affirms that the bonds between the Turkish and Pakistani peoples are “unique and based on deep friendship and partnership,” noting that “Turks enjoy great respect in all parts of the country, as is the case for Pakistanis in Turkey.”
It indicates that the Republic of Pakistan was established in 1947, and that it had relations with the Ottoman Empire before its establishment as well, and that it had always stood by the latter on the Indian peninsula.
The Pakistani official believes that the two countries “have always stood by each other, especially in difficult times, and that the Pakistani people, with their different components, are united by the love of Turkey.”
Talha cites for the above the immediate solidarity shown by Islamabad with Turkey following the failed coup attempt that targeted the country in mid-July 2016.
In this context, Talha refers to the speech delivered by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in November 2016, to the Pakistani Parliament, indicating that it “received great interest and support from all the representatives of the parties.”
On the issue of the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the Pakistani senator praises the performance of Turkish intelligence.
Talha says that the Turkish intelligence “collected all the necessary evidence and shared it with the international public opinion, thus hindering the efforts to drag Turkey into a major impasse,” without explaining that part.
Observers believe that the relations of cooperation and strategic partnership between China and Pakistan emerged in response to the alliance between the United States, India and Afghanistan, to gain over time.
During his visit, early this month, to China, the new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the activation of the Economic Corridor project, with the aim of boosting growth in his country.
In media statements at the time, Khan expressed his appreciation to China for its economic support to his country in difficult times, stressing that it is always a close friend of Pakistan.
It is expected that the international road that will connect the two countries will contribute to the rise of many Pakistani cities, such as the capital Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Multan, Hyderabad and Karachi.
Through the project, China will be able to halve the length of the route from the “Malaga” Strait to the European Sea Route and will achieve annual profits of at least $ 10 billion.
While Pakistan is expected to profit from the international road of $ 5 billion.
The Economic Corridor project intersects with the southeastern regions of Iran, the ports of “Chabahar” in the latter country, and “Gafdar” in Pakistan, and will play a role in achieving growth for Beijing and Islamabad mainly.
In addition, the project links Russia, Mongolia and the rest of Central Asia with the Gulf of Hormuz, which means that it is a project that would change the international balance of power in the region