BEIJING, Aug. 23, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The growth of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) – an international connectivity initiative – to connect markets within and across the region is the logical next step, Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif told the Global Times in a recent exclusive interview, expressing his openness to third-party participation to the flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative.
Since its inception in 2013, the CPEC has continued to make rapid and tangible progress. Over the past decade, CPEC has helped Pakistan alleviate power and infrastructure bottlenecks, thus laying the foundation for sustained economic modernization, Sharif said.
“As third-party participation picks up, we expect more common friends to benefit from Pakistan’s unique role at the crossroads of major emerging markets, demonstrating the win-win spirit that has always animated CPEC.”
As an international connectivity initiative, CPEC’s growth to connect markets within and across the region is the logical next step, he said.
Sharif said CPEC aims to bring the region together in the shared pursuit of prosperity and stability. This approach is not targeted at, and does not seek to exclude any party, Sharif said, hoping the project would continue to inspire greater international cooperation and help the region break the vicious cycle of deprivation and conflict.
With these ideals at its core, CPEC cannot reasonably be perceived as a “threat” except to those who view things in a zero-sum perspective and would rather “want that our peoples remain deprived of the fruits of development”, the Pakistan prime minister said.
Pakistan supports extension of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Afghanistan, Sharif said. “It is hoped that our efforts will ensure continuity of international engagement with Afghanistan with the eventual aim of seeing a peaceful, stable, prosperous, and connected Afghanistan contributing to the stability and long-term prosperity of our region.”
The prime minister also said he has visited numerous CPEC projects, including in Gwadar, to ensure that timelines are met. Timely completion of underway CPEC projects serve as the building blocks for the future agenda of bilateral economic cooperation has always been his priority.
Following the success of its early-harvest phase, CPEC is becoming increasingly substantiated, he said.