Imran floats idea of ‘tourism corridor’ at BRI summit


–Pakistani premier says CPEC not a transaction but transformation of society


BEIJING: Prime Minister Imran Khan has stressed the need for further boosting connectivity under the umbrella of Belt and Road Initiative to promote tourism.

Addressing Leader’s roundtable session of 2nd Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on Saturday, the prime minister said that project should also consider digital connectivity, mobility of labour and transfer of skills, cultural links and knowledge and innovation connectivity to further expand its scope.

To implement these additional areas of connectivity, the prime minister said that the BRI countries should establish a tourism corridor for cultural tourism exchanges.

They should develop programmes for improving the skills of labour from labour surplus countries to assist the labour deficient countries.

He said we should also create multilingual digital platforms for connecting producers, consumers and skilled job seekers.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan is at the crossroads of important regions and throughout the history, it has played a crucial role in connecting ideas, cultures and commerce.

He said connectivity has been a part of our heritage and the CPEC is giving it modern shape in the 21st century.

Alluding to the Chinese successes, he said the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has given the BRI vision to break barriers, connect people, integrate economies and share prosperity.

Imran said Pakistan was privileged to have been an early partner of China in this gamechanger project.

He said under the CPEC, we are building highways, modernising rail network, setting up power plants, establishing Gwadar port and special economic zones in the country.

He said the CPEC is not a transaction rather it is a transformation of our society.

PM Imran Khan noted that the connectivity of the Gwadar port with China’s Xinjiang region will provide a shorter route for China’s imports, reduce the cost for Chinese companies and develop western China as well.

On Friday, in his speech at the inaugural session of the second Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in Beijing, Prime Minister Imran had said: “As the Belt and Road Initiative takes a further concrete shape, I suggest we direct our efforts and focus on the peoples of our countries, and towards addressing impediments on their way to sustainable growth”.

Prime Minister Imran is among the 37 heads of state and government participating in the second edition of BRF, which is a platform for BRI partners to come together for reviewing their cooperation under the programme and charting the roadmap for future. As many as 122 states and 49 international organisations are part of Chinese BRI.

The five-point action plan proposed by the prime minister included joint efforts for mitigating climate change, establishing a BRI tourism corridor for promoting people-to-people contacts and intercultural understanding, setting up an office of anti-corruption cooperation, creating a poverty alleviation fund, and further liberalising trade and investment flows by encouraging private sector and businesses to collaborate in projects.

Prime Minister Imran’s proposals reflected Pakistan government’s priorities and he recalled his administration’s massive tree plantation drive and efforts for alleviating poverty, including the launch of the Ehsas programme.

Some of the proposals also reflected Chinese priorities as Beijing seeks to enhance the ‘quality of cooperation’ under the BRI.