ISLAMABAD-The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is ushering new era of cooperation and exchanges between the two countries in multiple areas including energy, industries, culture, and trade and commerce. 

The first phase of the CPEC (2015-2020) has made significant progress, with most of the planned projects in the transport infrastructure and energy sectors successfully implemented and under implementation.

According to an article published by the CGTN think tank, the early-harvest projects in the first phase of the CPEC have created about 38,000 jobs, more than 75 percent of which are local jobs.

Among them, energy projects have created the most jobs, absorbing a total of 16,000 jobs. Pakistani workers and engineers are employed. The construction of transportation infrastructure has created about 13,000 jobs. Among them, the largest infrastructure project under the Corridor Project, Peshawar-Karachi Expressway (Sukkur-Multan Section), has absorbed 9,800 Pakistani workers, and Karakoram the second phase of highway upgrading, and reconstruction created 2,071 local jobs.

In 2018, the article said the bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and China was $19.08 billion, a year-on-year decrease of 5 percent. From January to December 2020, the bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and China was $17.49 billion, a year-on-year decrease of 2.7 percent; from January to December 2021, the bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and China was $27.82 billion, a year-on-year increase of 59.1 percent. Among them, China’s exports to Pakistan were $24.23 billion, a year-on-year increase of 57.8 percent.

According to an article published by the CGTN Think Tank, imports from Pakistan were $3.59 billion, a year-on-year increase of 68.9 percent.

According to Pakistani statistics, China has been Pakistan’s largest trading partner for six consecutive years since fiscal year 2015 and is Pakistan’s largest source of imports and second largest export destination. In the fiscal year 2019-2020, the total bilateral trade was $10.67 billion, and the trade volume between Pakistan and China accounted for 16.7 percent of the total trade volume of Pakistan. Before 2015, Pakistan suffered from power shortages. Power outages took place all over the country. Major cities were out of power for about 10 hours a day, and rural areas are out of power for about 22 hours a day.

The article said the national average power shortage was 4,000 hours of megawatts. Since the establishment of the CPEC, the domestic power shortage in Pakistan has been greatly alleviated.

There are more than 10 energy and power projects in the CPEC, including Dawo Wind Power Project, Thar Coal-fired Power Station, Port Qasim Coal-fired Power Station, Karot Hydropower Station, Mattiari-Lahore ±660kV DC Transmission Project, Suki Knari Hydropower Station and others. According to statistics from the Pakistan Bureau of statistics, CPEC, as of January 2022, the total capacity of energy projects completed under the framework of the CPEC reached 5.32 million kilowatts.

The Mattiari-Lahore ±660 kV DC power transmission project, which has been completed and put into operation, has solved the problem of power transmission and distribution in Pakistan with advanced technology, reduced power line losses and improved the power transmission network in Pakistan.

The second phase of the Karakoram Highway Upgrade and Reconstruction Project and the Peshawar-Karachi Expressway Project have improved the traffic capacity of the “arterial roads” of road traffic between Pakistan and China and within Pakistan.  Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of Planning, Development and Special Projects of Pakistan, said that the CPEC has helped Pakistan build a number of world-class highways. Today, Pakistan has built an efficient and high-speed road network connecting the eastern, southern and northern regions, which has promoted interconnection and created new opportunities for the development of Pakistan’s tourism industry.

In addition to direct employment, corridor projects have also created thousands of indirect jobs. Gwadar was originally a small wharf on the Arabian coast of southwestern Pakistan, located in the impoverished province of Balochistan. Gwadar Port is far away from the mainland, with inconvenient transportation, barren land and weak infrastructure, the residents mainly rely on fishing. In 2015, with the joint efforts of Pakistan and China, the CPEC project in Gwadar Port was successfully implemented. Today’s Gwadar Port is not only officially operating, achieving the goal of connecting with major ports in the world, but also greatly improving the living and employment environment of the local residents.

Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of Planning, Development and Special Projects of Pakistan, said that remarkable progress has been made in the first phase of the CPEC construction, and the Gwadar Port has also made great progress in the construction of the CPEC.

If the economy is the essence of a country, and culture is the soul of a country, the CPEC project is like opening a door to cultural exchanges.

Pakistan and China are exchanging socio-economic models, exchanging material and immaterial cultures, and promoting mutual understanding. In terms of material culture, Pakistan and China are exchanging products, commodities and resources with each other.

Intangible culture includes food, language, clothing, religion and way of life. The Chinese engineers of the CPEC project have brought Chinese culture into the lives of local people while carrying out their work. At the same time, Chinese engineers are also actively learning the Pakistani language Urdu, trying to understand the culture and living habits of the Pakistani people, to work smoothly with their Pakistani colleagues. CGTN Think Tank is an open platform that promotes connections between leading thinkers from China and abroad. It provides a hybrid platform featuring different ideas, research and opinions drawn from the world’s leading intellectuals.