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Ambassador Nong Rong takes an interview with FM101 Channel
2021-05-20 01:19

Q1: How do you see the future of Pakistan China strategic partnership for the benefit of the people of the two countries?

Nong Rong: China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners. Over the years, the two sides have carried out a great deal of pragmatic cooperation based on the principles of mutual benefit, openness and inclusiveness, which has brought tangible benefits to the people of China and Pakistan.

As an important pilot project of the Belt and Road Initiative, and a platform for all-weather cooperation between the two countries, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC) has 46 projects completed or under construction, with a total investment of US$25.4 billion. At its peak, CPEC created 75000 jobs for Pakistan. At present, the scope of cooperation under CPEC is continuously expanding. Now CPEC enters into a new stage featuring high-quality development, that focus more on industry, agriculture, science and technology, will increase cooperation in areas related to people’s livelihood. By implementing projects in education, agriculture, medical care, vocational training, CPEC will help the Pakistani people improve their employment and living standards. The protocol of the second phase of the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement came into effect in 2020, and the export of Pakistani products to China is enjoying more convenience. China will continue to provide more favorable conditions for the companies of the two countries to further explore each other's market and bring more benefit to the people of the two countries.

Q2: Beijing and Islamabad have commonality of views on global issues. How does it affect the world politics in general and regional in particular?

Nong Rong: China-Pakistan relations go far beyond the bilateral scope. As Foreign Minister Qureshi said, Pakistan and China share a common vision and are committed to changing the destiny of our region, getting rid of conflicts and ideological differences, and jointly safeguarding peace, development and prosperity. It is fair to say that cooperation between China and Pakistan benefits the two countries, the region and the world.

Today's world is experiencing a great change that is unseen in a century, with international and regional situations are all undergoing profound changes. China will continue to support Pakistan's transformation from a geopolitics to geoeconomy, and help Pakistan play an important role in enhancing regional connectivity and economic and trade cooperation. We will strengthen coordination and cooperation in international multilateral institutions to jointly respond to various global challenges. We will work with Pakistan to promote the peace process in Afghanistan, maintain regional peace and stability, jointly respond to security threats and propaganda against China-Pakistan relations, and safeguard the common interests of the two countries.

Q3: CPEC was supposed to bring great changes to Pakistan’s social-economic development over the past five years. How do you see it progressing in Pakistan?

Nong Rong:CPEC has been focused on development that brings tangible benefits to the people. The Gwadar Port, for example, has resumed operations. The New Gwadar International Airport is under construction and the East Bay Expressway is expected to be completed in October, which will greatly improve regional connectivity. China-aided Gwadar Faqeer School was built in 2016, and further expanded last year, that can enroll 1000 students now; the China-Pakistan Fraternity Emergency Care Center was handed over to Pakistan in 2019 and has played an important role in fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic; Pak-China Vocational and Technical Institute at Gwadar is scheduled to be handed over in September and will greatly improve the employment skills of local youth when put into operation; and Pak-China Friendship Hospital will expand from the original 50 beds to a 150-bed comprehensive hospital, which will greatly improve the local health care conditions. It is fair to say that Gwadar is a showcase as how the CPEC projects and China-Pakistan cooperation benefit the local communities. In addition, CPEC has helped Pakistan add 5200 megawatts of power, 886 kilometers of national core transmission line and 510 kilometers of highways, which played an important role in the country’s social and economic development, especially in addressing power shortage in Pakistan. Moreover, the governments of the two countries have agreed on 27 social and livelihood projects under CPEC, and all 17 fast-track projects have been launched. Take my recent visit to Peshawar for example, I attended the groundbreaking ceremony of 50 China-aided schools in KP province and was warmly welcomed by the local community. It's believed that as CPEC enters a new stage of high-quality development, it will bring greater benefits to the people of Pakistan, and surely will get more support from the Pakistani people.

Q4: CPEC should be instrumental to regional cooperation, Inter-connectivity and common development, how much positive impact do you see on regional economy?

Nong Rong:First of all, in terms of transport infrastructure, CPEC provides the possibility for Pakistan to play the role of a regional connectivity hub. Karakoram Highway (KKH) Phase II (Havelian-Thakot Section) and Peshawar-Karachi Highway Project (Sukkur-Multan Section) have been completed; ML-1 upgrading project and N50 (D.I.Khan-Zhob) highway upgrading project are on the list of upcoming 10th JCC meeting; the Gwadar Port is thriving with the Afghanistan-Pakistan transit trade on the right track, while some Central Asian countries also tend to do the transit trade through Gwadar Port. All the above-mentioned facts lay a solid foundation for Pakistan to realize the transition from geopolitics to geo-economics, and promote regional cooperation and connectivity. Meanwhile, following the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, CPEC is open to third parties who support the Belt and Road Initiative. Many countries have expressed strong interest in participating in CPEC cooperation. It is expected that through CPEC project cooperation, regional economic cooperation will be further promoted, and the integration and development of South Asia, Central Asia and China will be enhanced.

Q5: How can we reduce the trade imbalance between Pakistan and China?

Nong Rong: China is happy to see Pakistan expand its exports to China and does not intend to pursue a trade surplus. The current trade deficit is mainly caused by deep-seated reasons such as the different stages of economic development and the differences in industrial structure between the two sides.

To alleviate the export deficit of Pakistan to China, China has taken a series of positive measures over the years. Firstly, the Second Phase of the Protocol of the China-Pakistan FTA came into effect on January 1, 2020, which will gradually reduce 75% of the goods from both sides to zero tariff. Secondly, working together with Pakistan to promote the entry of Pakistani cherries, onions, potatoes, beef and mutton, and other high-quality agricultural products into the Chinese market, based on necessary inspection and quarantine. Thirdly, we have facilitated the participation of Pakistani enterprises in key exhibitions such as China International Import Expo, Canton Fair, and China-ASEAN Expo, to offer more international platforms to display Pakistani goods. Fourthly, we have been encouraging Chinese enterprises to conduct investment and cooperation in Pakistan, and enhance the ability of Pakistani enterprises to earn foreign exchange from export. To conclude, China will continue to take various measures to promote a more balanced development of bilateral trade.

Q6: How do you see the prospect of cooperation in the field of educational exchanges?

Nong Rong: In recent years, the exchanges and cooperation in education between China and Pakistan have yielded fruitful results. More and more universities from the two sides have established sound relations, and the number of Pakistani students studying in China and the number of those enjoying Chinese government scholarships continue to increase. In 2017, the CPEC University Consortium was established by the two sides and nearly 50 universities from the two countries have joined the consortium. In 2020, the number of registered Pakistani students studying in China reached 28000. Every year the Chinese government offers more than 7000 scholarships to Pakistani students. China provides technical aid for 50 vocational and technical schools in Pakistan, organizes teachers of vocational schools to go to China for training, and jointly establish vocational training schools with Pakistan. In 2019, the number of Pakistani participants in various seminars and training courses in China reached 1100. In the future, China will, as always, do what it can to promote the educational exchanges and cooperation with Pakistan, push forward the negotiation and signing of the Executive Program of Educational Exchanges and Cooperation, and the Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Academic Degrees of Higher Education between china and Pakistan, and play a greater role in enhancing mutual understanding and deepening people-to-people bonds between the two countries.

Q7: China supports Pakistan in projects on agriculture, education, health-care, water resources, vocational training and poverty alleviation. Do you see the outcome of these efforts?

Nong Rong: Close contact between the people holds the key to sound state-to-state relations. The Chinese government attaches great importance to Pakistan’s demand for improving people’s livelihood. In recent years, through government assistance, the Chinese government has actively shared policy and experience with Pakistan in fields as agriculture, education, medical care, poverty alleviation, water supply, vocational training and disaster prevention and mitigation, provided a large amount of equipment and materials, and assisted in the construction of a batch of demonstration projects.

The 17 fast-track livelihood projects initiated by both governments were all started and in their implementation. The vaccine storage, transportation equipment and emergency relief supplies were delivered successfully, training programs and seminars in the fields of vocational education and poverty alleviation were completed, school reconstruction project in Newly Merged Districts is underway, Gwadar Hospital and Gwadar Vocational and Technical School are under construction, and Smart Classroom Project and Gwadar Seawater Desalination Plant will be started soon. Furthermore, the preparation work is completed for approval for projects such as Agricultural Equipment Supplies, Joint Laboratory of Agricultural Technology, Medical Equipment and Materials, Teaching Equipment for Vocational and Technical Schools, and Solar Powered Lighting Equipment for Baluchistan. The relevant materials are planned to be delivered to Pakistan this year and the next year.

After the outbreak of Covid-19, the Chinese government provided Pakistan with 7 batches of anti-epidemic materials last year, including face masks, ventilators, and testing kits, effectively alleviating the shortage of medical supplies at the early stage of pandemic in Pakistan. This year, the Chinese government and military have gifted over 2 million doses of Chinese vaccine to Pakistan. Business purchase from Chinese vaccine companies are going on smoothly. A friend in need is a friend indeed. It is in the joint fight against the pandemic that our close friendship is further enhanced.

Q8: Tourism industry in Pakistanis rapidly flourishing. How can we attract more Chinese tourists to Pakistan?

Nong Rong: Pakistan boasts a long history, splendid culture and beautiful scenery and has huge potential for tourism. As the largest source of outbound tourists and the fourth largest inbound tourist destination in the world, China will encourage more people to travel to Pakistan, share our experience in developing tourism business with Pakistani counterparts, and jointly promote the healthy and rapid development of Pakistan's tourism industry.

At present, we are working with Pakistani government in the process of signing the cooperation document on tourism between China and Pakistan. We hope to take this opportunity to promote the comprehensive exchange and cooperation between our two countries, in fields like tourism standard formulation, personnel training, tourism infrastructure construction, tourism marketing and many other aspects, so as to attract more tourists all over the world, including China, to travel to Pakistan, and promote the win-win development of our two countries’ tourism industry.

Q9: Would you like to give any special message to our listeners?

Nong Rong: I am very happy to communicate with the audience through FM101 Channel. The FM101 Channel has always been an important platform to promote China-Pakistan friendship and support China-Pakistan cooperation. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan, which serves as a new starting point with new opportunities. We would like to work with FM101 Channel and its audience to further promote our friendship and all-round cooperation. Wish all the listeners good health and success in all your endeavors. Chin-Pak Dosti Zindabad!

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