On Monday, September 7, 2020, the Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR) organized a Webinar titled “CPEC: The Next Mile”. The webinar was part of the IICR’s Globe 2020 Webinar Series. The webinar entailed the coming aspects and designs for CPEC in its second phase on which expert panel shared their views.
The Session was moderated by Chairman IICR Maj. Gen Raza Muhammad®. The esteemed panelist included Prof. Dr. Song Zhihui Deputy Dean School of International Studies Sichuan University, China, Mr. Ling Jianke Executive Representative of Power China Pakistan, and Mr. Hassan Daud Butt, CEO KP-BOIT.
The session was started with Dr. Zhihui, who highlighted the importance of Special Economic zones. He said that some of the Zones in the first phase were not designed according to the requirements of the industry thus there is a need to redesign SEZs in the second phase and relocate industries in the second phase of CPEC as well. Adding more he said that there could be special zones within SEZ’s or apart from SEZ’s under which leather and furniture industries shall be built which as well can be an addition to benefits from CPEC. He also highlighted that the policies related to SEZ’s shall be the same so that the companies which are willing to come and invest do not have to face many hurdles. Lastly, he said that to harness the maximum and robust development of SEZ’s direct communication lines in the shape of flight routes shall be established as well.
Mr. Ling discussed the technical points related to CPEC. He said that Power China is fully contributing to the designing of the second phase of CPEC with full enthusiasm. Commenting on the initial phase of CPEC, he said that in Pakistan in the duration of the first phase lacked the power influx which was the reason that the first phase focused on power and road infrastructure to connect the dots. After the completion of the first phase, the issue of load shedding has largely been resolved. Adding more to his part he said that the ML-1 is needed to be built quickly so the communication lines can be strengthened in full capacity. With strong communication lines, economic stability can be harnessed quickly. Commenting further he said that electricity consumption shall be more on commercial activity whereas 50% of the power consumption currently is on the household sector. He also said that China is shifting its industry in East Asian countries for cheap labor whereas Pakistan could be one where China can shift its industry to further strengthening the iron bond. He also said that the Heavy industry shall be the priority for Pakistan which can create more Jobs. Moreover, Pakistan can intensify its food export as China is a country with a population of 1.3 billion people and thus can be a great importer.
Mr. Hasan Daud who has also served as Project Director to CPEC. Mr. Daud began by stating that Pakistan is going through a great transformative phase and there is an industrial revolution knocking at the door for Pakistan. Reflecting on the future Mr. Daud said that for the next 50 years China would be the global engine for growth and development without any competition. He also said that the economic and political model of China should be academically studied; it includes lessons for Pakistan especially the fact that how China paced its growth in less than 30 years pulling out millions from abject poverty. Commenting on the current situation he said that all three SEZ’s i.e. Rashakai, Dhabeji, and Faislabad are already attracting investments which is a great fortune for Pakistan. Adding more to power projects under CPEC he said that in the first phase the electricity generation was as per plan and by 2025 Pakistan will be able to produce 7000MW of electricity. Lastly, he said that Maritime tourism is also one of the great component of CPEC and in Long term plan of CPEC which was published in 2017 it was prototyped as a 1+5 Model. In which 1 is the corridor and 5 are the various port cities.
Concluding the session Maj. Gen. Raza Muhammad® said that it has been a well-established fact by the scholars that it is the Asian Century and the future belongs to Asia in which China is actively playing its part. Reflecting on the history he said that China never colonized any other state rather for centuries it believes in peacefully resolving matters despite having the capacity to resolve conflicts militarily. Adding more he said that one of evidence is the fact that China had 13 border settlement issues out of 11 are being resolved, leaving the Indian and Bhutan’s aside. Commenting on the myths and propaganda he added that both the countries are unanimous on countering the elements which are sabotaging the CPEC and it will continue to proceed with full zeal. The session ended with the vote of thanks to the speakers.