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Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Mr. Sartaj Aziz on "CPEC: Corridor of Prosperity through Education and Business" at National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Islamabad (10 May 2017)

(2017-05-10) Major General Zia-ud-Din Najam,
Rector NUML,
Mr. Zhao Lijun,
Dr. Mujeeb Afzal,
Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

May I begin by thanking you for your kind invitation and the opportunity to speak at this important conference.

Over the years, National University of Modern Languages (NUML) has built bridges between Pakistan and the outside world, by imparting high quality education in foreign languages.

The Chinese language department at NUML is also reputed for its learned faculty from China, placed here through a robust exchange programme of teachers, and for its able graduates produced each year. The University, therefore, is well positioned to provide its academic inputs on all aspects of Pakistan-China bilateral relations, particularly China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Regional connectivity for economic prosperity is an important pillar of Pakistan's foreign policy. Our present government is earnestly implementing various trans-regional connectivity projects linking Pakistan with energy-rich Central Asia and the Middle East and economically promising China and the Far East.

Amongst all these projects, CPEC holds a special significance, as it is a flagship project of China's One Belt one Road (OBOR) initiative.

One Belt One Road is a visionary concept, which has proposed creating Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road, with focus on connectivity of infrastructure including roads, rail links, sea routes, ports, and connectivity of policy, trade and finance.

CPEC is a vital bridge that connects the Road and the Belt. It is located at crossroads of Central Asia, the Middle East and South Asia. Pakistani seaport of Gwadar, on northern Arabian Sea near Persian Gulf, is at the confluence of both the Road and the Belt.

By linking China with Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf, CPEC will optimize trade potential and enhance energy security of China, Pakistan and our wider region. Thus, it will directly benefit three billion people inhabiting China, South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.

Let me emphasize that CPEC should not be viewed in the prism of regional power dynamics, old style alliance formation or 'Zero-sum relationship' between different countries. The spirit of CPEC is cooperation and not confrontation; collaboration and not competition. It is a win-win project for everybody in the region and beyond. CPEC contributes towards a regional and an international order based on shared prosperity, mutual benefits and economic convergence.

CPEC is also a catalyst for regional economic integration. It will foster regional harmony and forge closer relations among China, Pakistan and our neighbours. It will promote regional stability in the region and bring prosperity, particularly to underdeveloped areas by creating jobs and new businesses.

CPEC is a recipe for alleviating poverty for millions of people by providing alternate livelihoods. The Corridor can also act as a bulwark against forces of terrorism and violent extremism - by engaging local youth in meaningful employment and presenting them with new economic opportunities.

For Pakistan, CPEC will tap Pakistan's enormous natural and human resources, address acute energy shortfalls, modernize Pakistan's transport infrastructure to contemporary requirements, inject a strong impulse for national economic development and help in building a knowledge-based, egalitarian society, in line with aspirations of our founding father, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The CPEC will lead to human development in Pakistan by improving economic, industrial, infrastructural and financing activities which is a key factor in progress and prosperity. Pakistan and China are already cooperating in the field of education through scholarships and exchanges of academicians, scholars, think tanks, journalists and media persons. Such exchange is going to enhance a CPEC motives.

I take this opportunity to urge greater collaboration between our universities and thinks tanks with their counterparts in China under the umbrella of CPEC. As economic activity and businesses expand under CPEC, more opportunities in education sector will be created, particularly in higher education. We need to have a strong backup of experts, engineers and technicians to fully optimize the benefits of CPEC.

Successful implementation of various CPEC project would also entail market improvement in national production capability and business environment. The key sectors including energy, finance, food, agro-based industry, livestock, construction, steel, transport and logistics, light engineering, plastics, value-added textile, mining and ore, assembly operations, tourism and IT services can flourish under the CPEC. Infrastructural improvement will encourage Greenfield industrial setups, but it is the focus on high tech and value additive industries that will provide the real platform for competitive trade in the global economy. Through joint ventures with Chinese businesses we can enhance our capacity, productivity and revenues manifold. The business community needs to conduct a comprehensive study about the potential benefits of CPEC to local trade and industry.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me conclude by commending the distinguished leadership and faculty of NUML for arranging this conference. I hope the academic communities of the two countries will keep taking interest in CPEC to improve our perspectives and enrich the discourse on this important initiative.

Thank you