China, Pakistan to accelerate ‘economic corridor’ construction


China and Pakistan have provided further details on their planned economic corridor project signalling the two nations’ commitment for stronger ties.

Leaders of the two states agreed to accelerate the building of economic corridor which will focus on energy cooperation, transportation infrastructure construction and industrial parks, Peoples Daily reported. During a meeting with visiting Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain Thursday in Beijing, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang emphasised the strategic significance of building an economic corridor. The two sides need to implement large-scale cooperation projects in electricity and new energy, promote the management of the port of Gwadar and advance connectivity schemes, Li noted. The economic corridor project was proposed during Li’s visit to Pakistan in May 2013.

For China, the project with Pakistan links China’s strategy to develop its western region with Pakistan’s focus on developing its economy, Ma Jiali, researcher with China Institute of Contemporary International relations, told Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Geographically, the economic corridor refers to the 2,000-kilometer road and rail link connecting Kashgar in west China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region to the south western Pakistani port of Gwadar.

However, the project is not confined to transportation infrastructure construction. In addition to road and railway construction, it includes energy cooperation and investment programmes. During President Mamnoon Hussain’s visit to China, a Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) was signed on Wednesday for upgrading the section of the Karakoram Highway.

Tang Mengsheng, director of the Pakistan Studies Center of Peking University, said the upgrading of Karakoram Highway plays a vital role in strengthening connectivity of the two sides. He believes road reconstruction will facilitate bilateral trade and investment, and provide convenience for the two countries’ cooperation in more fields.

In the energy sector, the MOU on co-establishing a national joint research center for small-scaled hydropower technology was signed between the two countries’ ministries of science and technology.