Envoy: Many benefits to Xi's visit

Updated: 2015-04-19 20:45

By ZHANG YUNBI(chinadaily.com.cn)

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Agreements expected on energy, infrastructure development, education, culture, information and people-to-people contacts

Cooperation on energy, infrastructure and cultural exchanges will result from President Xi Jinping's state visit to Pakistan on Monday and Tuesday, according to Masood Khalid, Pakistan's ambassador to China.

"Our Chinese friends describe Pakistan as their second home, and we are glad that Pakistan is the first country that President Xi will be visiting after Chinese New Year," Khalid said in an interview with China Daily.

China is Pakistan's second-largest trading partner and Pakistan has become China's largest investment destination in South Asia.

Khalid said Xi has put forward his vision for regional connectivity, economic integration and comprehensive security.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has also put forward his concept for Pakistan's economic revival and national development through peaceful relations with neighbors.

On the outcome of the visit, Khalid said the two countries "intend to finalize a number of agreements on energy, infrastructure development, education, culture, information and people-to-people contacts.

"These agreements will cement our bilateral cooperation and provide a steppingstone for further deepening this cooperation," he said.

Khalid said Xi's visit "will optimize China's role, both in a bilateral sense as a trusted friend of Pakistan as well as in a regional sense as a partner in peace and development."

The ambassador has endorsed the release last month of the State Council's official planning and outlook for building the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the trans-Eurasian initiatives proposed by Xi.

"I think the 'Belt and Road' initiative can usher in unparalleled economic and social dividends for Asia and beyond. By releasing its planning and outlook last month, the State Council of China has converted this vision into a policy instrument," he said.

If all the countries concerned followed up on this in earnest, 'the Belt and Road' initiative will serve their economic development, generate employment, help to alleviate poverty and promote social progress, he added.

Referring to building a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Khalid said work is continuing on several infrastructure, energy and industrial development projects.

The corridor will involve energy projects, transportation infrastructure, industrial parks, agriculture, poverty alleviation and cultural exchanges.

Sun Weidong, China's ambassador to Pakistan, said in a speech last month that the corridor has moved from the planning stage to implementation.

China and Pakistan have set up a Joint Cooperation Committee to constantly review progress on the corridor, and the committee's fourth session was held recently.

Khalid said: "The corridor has the potential to integrate four engines for global growth - China, South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. In this way, it can directly benefit 3 billion people."

As a vital bridge connecting the "Belt and Road" and also a pioneering project within this initiative, the corridor is being conceived as a linchpin for the two countries' plans to deepen their economic cooperation, he added.

Pakistan has applied to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as a founding member.

Asked about the surge in the number of applicants seeking to join the bank in the past month, Khalid said that with developing countries "starving" for financing to implement infrastructure development, and bank's formation is "propitious, to say the least".

"I view it as a future-oriented initiative of great significance. Growing interest in the AIIB, particularly from leading European economies, is evidence of this point," he said.

Pakistan will work with China to "accelerate preparations for the bank to promote regional infrastructure construction and economic development", he added.