The propaganda outlets always paint a very scary and dismal picture of CPEC. They always look for opportunity to criticize CPEC even they are not hesitating to use COVID-19 for their purpose. Although COVID-19 and CPEC has no link but they are hell bent to exploit the situation. First it was propagated that CPEC workers are in danger due to COVID-19, which proved wrong. There was not a single case. Chinese government took extra measures to makes sure that COVID-19 does not affect any worker. It had placed double quarantine measure. Now a campaign has been launched to spread fake news about the progress of second phase of CPEC in the context of COVID-19. It has been continuously fed to media and special media that progress has been slow down due to COVID-19. But the reality is different.
Rather, Pakistan and China are working to expand the scope and areas of work under CPEC. During the recent visit of President of Pakistan to China, both countries signed two forward looking memorandum of understanding (MoUs) to establish two new working groups. Although, the visit was a solidarity, but two countries used this opportunity to further strengthen the CPEC.
The new working groups, agriculture working group and Science and technology working groups are designed to cater for present and future needs of Pakistan. Agriculture group will help to solve present day issues of agriculture and provide guidelines for rapid development of sector. The science and technology group will help Pakistan to look for its share in fourth industrial revolution.
Moreover, second phase of CPEC is also getting acceleration with every passing day. The progress can be observed in multiple areas. Currently, 40000 Pakistani and 7000 Chines workers are performing their duties with dedication. The number of workers indicate the volume of work, which is going on. It clearly depicts that there is no break and work is going on, on all CPEC projects. Besides, it has been calculated that CPEC would produce almost 2.3 million jobs till 2030, which are direly needed in case of Pakistan, as Pakistan has huge youth bulge.
Both governments have also enhanced the speed to launch different social development projects. Currently, governments have finalized the 12 social economic development programs out of 17, under second phase of CPEC. These programs are ready to be launched anytime. These programs will give a huge impetus to income generation activities and curb poverty in Pakistan. The major beneficiaries would be skill development and agriculture sectors.
Although, China is going through testing times, but China is putting efforts to expand CPEC. The efforts of both governments give confidence that the CPEC will be implemented on time and there will be no delay as it is being propagated
The social and economic development programs also give a special importance to marginalized areas. For example, Gwadar, which is one of most backward area of Pakistan has been given special focus. A model school is under construction here and it has been predicted it will be completed before the deadline. A special vocation training institute is also under construction. It has been designed to create more job opportunities for local communities by providing them better skills. The institute will be functional before August 2021. Mr. Zhang Baozhong, Chairman, Chinese Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC) pointed out that this institution is direly needed here in Gwadar. He is confident, this institution will help local communities to find decent jobs in coming years. Moreover, it will also help to attractive foreign investors in Gwadar and special economic zone. Besides, work on desalination plant is also going on with full speed. It will be completed soon and will provide 1.2 million gallons of water on daily basis. China also envisioned to help to establish a nursing school and medical college in Gwadar
Mr. Zhang further added that private companies and SOEs like COPHC are also contributing to uplift the lives of locals through jobs, education, environment development and health etc. According to him, presently, there are 600 permanent employees of COPHC of which 588 are Pakistani. COPHC is also contributing in education sector. It has built a school in one of the most backward area of the country. By keeping in mind, the development status, school’s capacity was kept 150. However, it was pleasant surprise that during the second year the total number of students were 720. Now COPHC is expanding the capacity and new building will entertain 1000 students.
Mr. Zhang also highlighted that COPHC is also investing on environment. The company has joined the official “Clean and Green” campaign of Pakistan. Last year COPHC has planted 400000 plants across the port and Gwadar city. We have committed to plant 1 million plants in next five years. We are putting efforts to keep port and city clean. Although our efforts cannot fulfill the demand of area, but we are determined to play our part and contribute what we can. This is story of one company, we can find similar examples from other companies under the CPEC. He concluded by saying that CPEC work is getting momentum with every passing day. It is priority and commitment of all companies to complete work even before the deadline, even during the COVID-19 we are not compromising on speed of work.
Chinese government is also extremely committed to help Pakistan to implement CPEC. The commitment can be seen from the efforts of China, even during the spread of COVID-19, China spared time to invite President of Pakistan and signed two extremely important MoUs. Although, China is going through testing times, but China is putting efforts to expand CPEC. The efforts of both governments give confidence that the CPEC will be implemented on time and there will be no delay as it is being propagated. The commitment of Pakistan has also improved, and it is evident from the establishment of CPEC Authority. Pakistan is trying to imply all required instruments to make CPEC a success story.
In this backdrop we can say, negative propaganda seems unfair and based on malicious intents. The purpose of which is to undermine the importance of CPEC and create hurdles for the development of Pakistan. However, it will never be successful because CPEC is not joint venture between governments, it is joint venture among the people of China and Pakistan.
This article was originally published at: https://dailytimes.com.pk/594519/covid-19-and-expansion-of-cpec/
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.