Islamabad: Pakistan-China Institute (PCI) co-hosted a joint China-Pakistan think tanks Webinar on ‘New Opportunities and Challenges of China-Pakistan Cooperation in the Post-Epidemic Era’.
The webinar brought together government officials, leading experts, and entrepreneurs to discuss the post-pandemic relationship between Pakistan and China. Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing was among the two keynote speakers, the other being Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed.
Dr Baige ZHAO, former Population Minister and head of Research & Development International (RDI), in her opening remarks said that President Xi Jinping’s speech about improving connectivity through BRI at last month’s high-level video conference shows the will of China to start a new era of globalization. BRI, she said, will play a key role in promoting peace and stability.
Ambassador Yao Jing said that he has been personally witnessing the cooperation between two countries since the start of the outbreak. Pakistan’s assistance to China in February, when China was facing COVID crisis and President Alvi’s visit to China expressed the solidarity of Pakistan to China. Moreover, he said that Pakistan is the first country with whom China is sharing vaccine development research information. While talking about CPEC, he said that 13,000 Chinese technicians, engineers and experts are working on CPEC projects, which employ over 60,000 Pakistanis. He also mentioned the Chinese assistance to Pakistan in the wake of COVID crisis, which is worth $ 15 million. He said that so far 10 chartered flights from China brought experts & equipment during COVID-19 and upon the request of the Pakistan government, 1000 more ventilators will be given to Pakistan by the end of this month.
Senator Mushahid Hussain, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee & Chairman of the PCI said that Coronavirus knows no borders and this crisis has strengthened our bilateral bond as both Pakistan and China support each other’s core interests. It is a common enemy of mankind and a common challenge to fight with. China has done a remarkable job in containing the virus by taking timely and efficient measures. He also thanked support of the China to Pakistan. While talking about opportunities arising from the COVID crisis, he said that the time has come to reset our priorities, focusing on human security, human development, better hospital care and Climate Change. In this regard, Belt and Road initiative can be taken as a guiding tool to reach our goal of a shared future. The balance of power, according to him, is shifting towards East from the west.
The Asian countries have contained COVID more effectively than Western countries. He also talked about the three resolutions passed by the parliament of Pakistan to in regards to China; the first one on February 12 to express solidarity with China in wake of COVID, the second one in May to thank China for assistance to Pakistan during COVID, and the third one in June to support China on the diplomatic front after tensions in India-China relationship.
Mustafa Hyder Sayed, Executive Director of Pakistan-China Institute said that two events are important to be mentioned in today’s webinar. One is the policy statement issued by President Xi Jinping’s speech during his speech at the World Health Assembly on May 18 and the second one is the high-level video conference BRI in June. There are some similarities in the key points that emerged from these events. Both talk about following a people-centred approach in devising the policies and China’s commitment to supporting debt relief given by the G-20 to the developing countries.
Moreover, these events highlighted the need for strengthening international cooperation and developing global health governance and developing COVID vaccines as a public good. While talking about the opportunities arising from the COVID crisis, he said that the government should focus on surgical goods, sports goods and medical equipment as Pakistan has the capacity to make the best surgical goods in the world. China can help Pakistan in this regard.
Moreover, he termed the recent shift in Iran’s policy in regards to CPEC a good omen for regional connectivity. He also talked about the need for developing the skills of labour working on SEZs and the role that the private sector should play in the development of BRI. Chinese experience in developing SEZs can help Pakistan SEZs to succeed.
In his speech, Zhang Baozhong, head of COPHC, the company that runs Gwadar Port, said no Pakistani employee in any CPEC project has lost their job during Coronavirus and neither has any seen any cut in salary plus all CPEC projects are free of COVID-19. Mudassir Tipu, DG Foreign Office, heading the China Desk, gave a rundown of Government policies on Pakistan ties with China.