April 20, 2016
The Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) held an in-house discussion today with a five-member delegation from the China Institutes of International Relations (CICIR), Beijing. The delegation was led by Mr. Fu Mengzi, Vice President of the CICIR.
Ambassador Masood Khan, Director General ISSI, warmly welcomed the delegation and emphasized on Pakistan’s deep-rooted ties with China. He also introduced guest-speakers who participated in the discussion.
Mr Fu Mengzi highlighted the strong strategic ties existed between Pakistan and China and the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and its various aspects such as challenges and opportunities. He highlighted Pakistan’s geo-strategic importance.
Speakers said there is need to tackle the counter narrative of the CPEC. They said that confrontation in South China Sea would be counterproductive for peace and stability in the region and for smooth implementation of One Belt One Road and the CPEC. The importance of CPEC was highlighted by speakers as a vital project for the economy of Pakistan. They suggested that besides strategic factors and CPEC, other aspects of mutual relations should be pursued.
Mr Khalid Rehman, DG, Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad, talked about narratives and moves that have been generated at grass-root level to hurt the deep-rooted ties between Pakistan and China and the CPEC. Air Vice Marshall (retd) Faaiz Amir said the CPEC has been primarily projected as corridor and he talked about the South China Sea tension and its implications. Dr Azhar Ahmad of the Behria University, Islamabad, of the view that CPEC overtakes other discussions of Pakistan’s relations with China. Air Marshall (retd) Farhat Hussain was of the view that Pakistan’s relations with China are time-tested and they will continue to grow despite opposition. He asked other horizons and common areas that could cement their relations should be explored. Brigadier (retd) Dr Maqsood ul Hasan of NUML University, Islamabad, said that CPEC is a project of great magnitude with far-reaching strategic dimensions. Dr Ahmad Rashid Malik, Senior Research Fellow at ISSI, highlighted the significance of the CPEC.
Chinese scholars presented their viewpoint on the CPEC and pointed out that the CPEC is the flagship project of the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative and they expected the completion of the early harvest projects soon. They also shed light on the security issues related to the CPEC. They were of the view that the Sino-American tension in the South China Sea will not affect the CPEC.
Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman, Board of Governors of ISSI, said that the CPEC is important project of the OBOR to built roads and maritime connections and Gwadar Port will meet both demands of land and maritime connections. He said that CPEC has overcome weak economic links that existed between Pakistan and China in the past. He put aside Indian objections and other concerns related to the CPEC.
Ambassador Masood Khan, while concluding the meeting, said that the CPEC has grown out of Pakistan-China mutual ties and besides the CPEC, defence and strategic ties between the two countries were strong. He said that propaganda from some quarters tries to create negative stereotypes about Pakistan and China but the ties of the two countries are strong and resilient that can absorb all shocks to advance their shared agenda. He said that citizens’ exchanges should be increased between the two countries. He mentioned that all political parties are in favour of the CPEC. He cautioned that Indians would continue to object the CPEC; and concluded that both Pakistanis and Chinese are iron brothers and that feeling exists in the hearts and minds of both people and would also generations to come. Under given circumstances, he opined that the CPEC would succeed in achieving its objectives.