Beijing, Aug 1: China will continue to work with its all-weather ally Pakistan to take their strategic ties to new heights, Chinese President Xi Jinping has said as the two countries celebrated the 10th anniversary of the launch of the ambitious CPEC infrastructure projects in the South Asian country for regional connectivity.
In his congratulatory message to the ‘Decade of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’ (CPEC) celebration event held in Islamabad on Monday, Xi said the USD 60 billion CPEC infrastructure programme is an “important pioneering project” of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Balochistan with China’s Xinjiang province, is opposed by India as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The event was attended by Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan.
“China will work with Pakistan to aim for high-standard, sustainable and livelihood-enhancing outcomes and further build the CPEC into an exemplary project of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation,” Xi said.
“Since its launch in 2013, China and Pakistan have been advancing CPEC under the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and have achieved a number of early harvests,” he was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Xi, also the General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China, said the CPEC has added new impetus to the economic and social development of Pakistan and laid a good foundation for regional connectivity and integration.
He said the project is a “vivid testament to the all-weather friendship between China and Pakistan”, and provides an important underpinning for building an even closer China-Pakistan community with a shared future in the new era.
Stressing that China and Pakistan will continue to improve overall planning and expand and deepen cooperation, Xi said no matter how the international landscape may change, China will always stand firmly with Pakistan, the report said.
“China and Pakistan will continue to work hand in hand and forge ahead in solidarity to carry forward the ironclad friendship, coordinate development and security,” Xi said.
He said the two countries will continue to “pursue the cooperation of higher standards, broader scope and greater depth, and take the China-Pakistan all-weather strategic cooperative partnership to new heights, so as to make an even greater contribution to peace and prosperity in the two countries and the broader region”.
The key agreement for the CPEC projects was agreed in 2013 but it was formally launched when President Xi Jinping visited Pakistan in 2015.
The BRI was launched by Chinese President Xi in 2013. It aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.
The BRI is seen as an attempt by China to further its influence abroad with infrastructure projects funded by Chinese investments all over the world.
The initiative also led to allegations of smaller countries reeling under mounting Chinese debt after Sri Lanka gave its Hambantota port in a debt swap to China in 2017 on a 99-year lease.