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The Sino-Pakistan economic corridor is one of the most significant issues among China’s cooperation with neighboring countries, said Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang in a November meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.
Chinese officials are looking to better understand Pakistan's economic situation and development opportunities as China implements its "One Belt and One Road" strategy in South Asia.
“The One Belt and One Road plan itself is far-reaching and will benefit the people of both China and Pakistan,” said Sharif in a meeting with Boao Forum for Asia members, one of the architects of China's New Silk Road.
After touring the Pakistani cities of Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, Guangdong Foreign News Research Group interviewed Cousellor of Chinese Embassy in Pakistan Yao Wen and Sino-Pakistan Association Chairman Mushahid Hussain as they shared their views on the new cooperation opportunities between Pakistan and Guangdong.
200 million people and a large market
In 2013, Pakistan signed a cooperative plan with China to develop the Sino-Pakistan economic corridor. Gwadar, a western harbor of Pakistan, is the starting point of the corridor.
Bilateral trade between China and Pakistan reached 14.22 billion US dollars in 2013. For China, the export volume was 11.02 billion US dollars and the import volume reached 3.2 billion US dollars last year. Bilateral trade between Guangdong and Pakistan reached 2.71 billion US dollars, which accounts for 25 percent in bilateral trade between China and Pakistan.
“Guangdong played an important role in the economic development of China," said Falak Sher Kalas, the Director General Foreign Investment Wing in Board of Investment of Pakistan. "We seek to cooperate with Guangdong. Hopefully enterprises in Guangdong would like to invest in Pakistan," the director said.
“A series of projects, including energy construction, infrastructure construction and industrial parks are on the agenda," said Yao Wenwho added that Pakistan now has 200 million people. “The market prospect is promising," said Yao.
Pakistanis want to know more about China
The Confucius Institute in Islamabad, which established in 2005, is the first Confucius Institute in Pakistan. “Pakistanis are friendly to Chinese people, but most of them have no chance to visit China. They want to know more about China, learn Mandarin and Chinese culture. However, only two Confucius Institutes have been established in this country," Yao said.
Yao also suggested that Guangdong can promote cultural communication with Pakistan in 2015.
Teachers in the Confucius Institute in Islamabad, Pakistan (Phpto: Southcn.com)
A dialogue with Yaowen (Excerpt)
Q: Recently, many enterprises in the Pearl River Delta are seeking to invest overseas. What opportunities are available to Guangdong in Pakistan?
Yao: Guangdong has experience in the urban construction of Shenzhen, the special Economic Zone. Pakistan is in urgent need of such experiences in order to develop Gwadar port into a world-class free port. Guangdong and Pakistan can communicate on the strategies for developing a special economic zone. Guangdong can make investments in telecommunication, commerce and logistics. Pakistan’s abundant resources in agricultural products and animal husbandry, as well as its fishing and aquaculture provides Guangdong a big stage to produce its advantage.
Q: Guangdong is seeking to promote cultural exchanges between China and Pakistan and increase communication with influential think tanks and organizations of Pakistan. Do you have any suggestions on these issues?
Yao: Pakistan is in great need of learning Chinese and understanding China. Few people from Pakistan have been to China. Last year, the total amount of visas to China was only 50,000. In addition, Guangdong can cooperate with Punjab province, the most developed province among the four which has 60 percent of the whole nation’s population and also considered to be the safest and best conditioned province.