Addressing the reporters during his visit to Peshawar, Mr Nong Rong said that during its first stage the CPEC concentrated on energy and infrastructure projects which were successfully completed.
Nong Rong informed the reporters that energy projects built under the CPEC had been completed and China provided one-third of Pakistan’s electricity requirement during the Covid-19 pandemic at the lowest price. He also said that they were several other projects in the pipeline.
The ambassador further said that the CPEC’s infrastructure component Lahore’s Orange Line Metro had been completed and some cargo for Afghanistan was also coming through Gwadar port.
Discussing the restrictions put in place due to Covid19, Nong Rong said that though Pakistani students couldn’t go to their classrooms in China, they could still attend their classes online. He was also appreciative of the cooperation between Pakistan and China on the provision of vaccine.
He said that he visited the Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and it was one of the most important CPEC projects.
Rashakai Special Economic Zone (REZ), located near M-1 Nowshera, is set to be established in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The 1000 acres land of REZ will be developed in three phases. The total area designated for Industrial use is 702 acres and as per Federal SEZA Regulations, of which 159 acres will be developed in Phase I, 279 acres in phase II and subsequently 264 acres in Phase III.
It is being developed under a public-private partnership by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Economic Zone Development and Management Company (KPEZDMC) in collaboration with the China Road and Bridge Corporation.
Mr Nong also met with Mr Nong also met KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan and they inaugurated a project for reconstruction of damaged schools in the merged districts.
The project’s predicted cost is Rs2.323 billion, out of which Rs868 million will be provided by Pakistan, while $10.29m by the Chinese government.
24 schools for boys and 26 for girls, which were fully damaged during militancy in Bara tehsil of Khyber district, will be reconstructed in the first phase of this project.
Read More: CPEC speeds into the second phase under PTI
A document was also signed for the implementation of the reconstruction project by the secretary of the elementary and secondary education department and the Chinese officials during the occasion.
CM Khan thanked the Chinese government for its support to the KP government in the reconstruction of damaged schools. He said the CPEC was a great example of Pak-China friendship.
He said the Rashakai SEZ would be inaugurated soon which would boost industrial activities in the province and create employment opportunities.
Mr Nong said the Chinese government wanted to further strengthen its ties with Pakistan.
CPEC maintains momentum
Despite the international propaganda, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project is proceeding at a fast pace with lot of successes and new investments.
Though the progress of CPEC, China’s most ambitious BRI project has been under scrutiny this year, it has still managed to maintain a positive momentum of development. Even during the pandemic, the construction work of the ongoing projects was not halted, there were no job cuts and no withdrawal of workforce, which helped Pakistan in countering the epidemic and stabilizing the economy.
According to official sources, China and Pakistan recently launched two mega hydroelectric power projects valuing $1.93 billion. The ML-1 railway project has also been finally agreed between the two countries and discussions are now at advanced stages.
Moreover, two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed in the fields of agriculture and science and technology in 2020 between China and Pakistan. On top of that, China also offered to donate a date processing plant for Balochistan. The plant will play a vital role in creating livelihood opportunities for the local people and boosting export earnings for Pakistan.
In December 2020, China’s Embassy in Pakistan released a statement saying CPEC projects were on track in response to questions about delays. 32 projects had “achieved early harvests” over the past five years, it added.
This has significantly improved local transportation infrastructure and power supply, created over 75,000 jobs directly and contributed one to two percent of the GDP growth in Pakistan,” revealed the statement, directly hitting out at criticism from the U.S. that said Chinese projects were inflicting huge debt burdens.