By Lin Zhuowei
(ECNS)--The year 2023 marks the 10th anniversary of both the “Belt and Road Initiative” and one of its flagship projects—the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Mushahid Hussain Syed, Chairman of Pakistani Senate’s Defence Committee and also former Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on CPEC, shared his thoughts and observations on the initiative in an exclusive interview with China News Network recently.
“I think the BRI has given a strategic option to countries that the way forward is not a Cold War, not containment, not conflict. The way forward is connected with cooperation, working together, being inclusive, win-win cooperation,” said Syed.
CPEC a source of confidence for Pakistanis
After 10 years of development since its initiation in 2013, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), now a flagship BRI project in which Pakistanis take pride, has given new hope and confidence to Pakistan, Syed noted.
Reflecting upon his visits to CPEC project sites during his term as Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on CPEC, Syed said the past 10 years have been a successful story, and that not only has the Corridor boosted the connectivity of Pakistan with neighboring countries, but it has also led to greater well-being of the locals, particularly by empowering women and facilitating the local lives.
Among all the CEPC projects, the Gwadar port stands as an outstanding example of building up connectivity, according to Syed. Linking up the overland Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road, the port extends from Kashgar, a city in northwest China’s Xinjiang, to the Gwadar Port in the south of Pakistan. Now fully operational, it will significantly boost connectivity with the Middle East and Central Asia.
In another example of how BRI projects have transformed local life, Syed shared what he had seen in the inland town of Thar which is mainly inhabited by ethnic minorities. Thanks to the newly-added job opportunities, women there are no longer merely confined to the private sphere of domestic life. Instead, they have become skilled workers, driving big dumper trucks around. Through the founding of vocational and technical training institutes in Pakistan, CPEC projects have opened up new life possibilities for locals.
In Syed’s opinion, China has promoted connectivity and cooperation with Pakistan and other BRI countries, especially in the areas of economy, culture, and education. “I feel that China is also becoming a role model in foreign policy and cooperation,” commended Syed.
Win-win cooperation supersedes conflict and containment
In Syed’s opinion, China is a role model in international cooperation mainly for three reasons.
Firstly, China has assisted other countries without interfering in their internal affairs or browbeating them.
Secondly, China is committed to building bridges of friendship and cooperation between nations all over the world, exemplified by the Global Development Initiative, the Global Civilization Initiative, and the meditated rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, all of which are carried out based on the principles of equality, diversity, and inclusivity. He believes that China has provided the world with a new strategic option and a new vision for development featuring win-win cooperation, transcending the confrontational Cold War mindset.
Moreover, a multitude of new challenges represented by climate change calls for joint action of all humanity and cooperative solutions like the Belt and Road Initiative. Altogether, the three reasons also explain the popularity of the BRI globally, said Syed.
China’s peaceful rise an undeniable fact
When talking about China’s international representation overseas, Syed recalled his first visit to China more than 50 years ago. Unlike the prosperous and strong country it is today, China was less developed and more isolated. The people, however, impressed Syed as being high-spirited.
Syed spoke highly of the achievements that the Chinese people have pulled through in decades. Rising peacefully, it has lifted over 8 million people out of absolute poverty and gradually assumes a leading and crucial role on the global stage, particularly in promoting economic growth, global governance and cooperation, and combating climate change, he noted.
Raising the mobile phone in his hand, Syed cited Huawei’s recent breakthrough of the 5G chip technology as an example of China’s technological advances and hoped for closer cooperation with China in the tech sector.
Meanwhile, the information warfare waged by the Western media to disparage and discredit China, he believes, is one of the biggest challenges confronting the country.
However, he noted that China has friends all around the world, including in the West.“That (the information warfare) is based on a lot of mythology, so their fiction should be countered with facts,” said Syed.