The Path to a Better Future: The Belt and Road Initiative in South Asia
“The Belt and Road Initiative is a public road open to all, not a private road owned by one party.”
—— Chinese President Xi Jinping
In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed building the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which involves a land-based Silk Road economic belt and a 21st century maritime Silk Road based on the sea. The BRI aims to build a network of trade, investment and infrastructure linking Asia with other parts of the world along the ancient trade routes of the Silk Road and beyond.
Entering its ninth year of solid progress, the BRI has become the largest platform for international cooperation in the world, with 148 countries and 32 international organizations signing more than 200 cooperation agreements with China under the BRI as of 6 February 2022.
Located at the intersection of China’s proposed Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, the South Asia region, the most populous region in the world and accounting for approximately a quarter of the total world population, is one of the critical areas for the BRI. Five South Asian countries have joined the BRI framework, with its various infrastructure footprints, such as the port of Gwadar in Pakistan, already visible across the region.
Children play on the artificial beach in the port city of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Dec. 3, 2021. (Xinhua/Tang Lu)
China’s BRI in South Asia includes four sub-projects: China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM), Trans-Himalayan Corridor and China’s cooperation with the Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives under the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. The BRI has turned an idea into action and a vision into reality, which in turn has improved the livelihoods of local people, facilitated sustainable development in South Asia and brought prosperity to the rest of the world.
Pakistan: CPEC has paid off
Launched from 2013, CPEC has become the flagship project of the BRI, which has made Pakistan one of the most visible partners of the BRI. As the project is progressing smoothly and trade is booming, CPEC is now promoting comprehensive cooperation between the two countries and contributing to the betterment of Pakistani people.
According to Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Moin ul Haque, more than 70,000 jobs have been created so far through BRI cooperation. Another half million direct and indirect jobs will be created over the next five to seven years.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has yielded fruitful results, greatly improving the lives of Pakistani people, Pakistani President Arif Alvi said on March 22, 2022, when meeting with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. .
Port of Gwadar
Fishing boats dock in the bay of Gwadar port in southwest Pakistan’s Gwadar on Jan. 29, 2018. (Xinhua/Ahmad Kamal)
Gwadar Port, which officially entered into service in November 2016, has been hailed as the “Crown Jewel of CPEC”. As a centerpiece of monumental achievements in Pakistan-China relations, Gwadar Port is set to become an economic and logistics hub with the potential to generate $10 billion in GDP for the Pakistani economy. Last year, the port began to expand its business, bringing growing momentum and stability to Pakistan’s economy. The port is now being used for the first time for Afghan transit trade, while tapping into the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) sector and becoming fully operational as a commercial port.
Port Qasim Power Station
The Chinese-backed Port Qasim coal-fired power plant in Pakistan. (Photo/Xinhua)
The first unit of the Port Qasim Power Station was inaugurated in 2017, marking the first batch of primary energy projects under CPEC to start generating electricity. As Pakistan’s most critical and reliable power station, Port Qasim Power Station is capable of supplying clean and cheap electricity to around 4 million Pakistani families, greatly alleviating the problem of power shortages. electricity in Pakistan. The plant has also contributed to readjusting the local energy structure and allows cost savings for electricity production.
(Web Editor: Wu Chaolan, Liang Jun)