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I wish to thank Mr. Ikram Sehgal, Vice Chairman, Karachi Council on Foreign Relations, for arranging this event.

I would like to welcome to Dr. Manli Cheng, Dean and the faculty of National Institute of Strategic Communication (NISC) at Peking University to Pakistan and to this event.

Peking University, we all know, has inspired a large number of China’s leaders and scholars, who have helped to build a great country and a vibrant society.

The focus of Peking University’s NISC is currently on One Belt One Road and CPEC, I am certain, this will promote better understanding of these landmark initiatives and contribute to their successful implementation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

One Belt One Road is a visionary concept of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Under the concept of One Belt One Road, the Chinese President has proposed creating Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road. This has transformed a traditional concept of Silk Road, found in old chronicles, fables and fairy tales, into a viable policy instrument for economic prosperity through regional connectivity and integration.

I believe that important features of the two Silk Roads proposed by Chinese leadership are openness and beneficial cooperation. Thus One Belt and One Road initiative enables all countries and regions to share the bounties of economic development, based on win-win cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

CPEC is a flagship project of One Belt One Road initiative. It is a vital bridge that connects the Road and the Belt. 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.

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.

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 China, CPEC will further promote a peaceful neighbourhood it desires to continue on its path towards peaceful development and national rejuvenation. A successful CPEC sets example for China’s similar projects with other countries and benefit the grand plan of One Road & One Belt. That’s why we say building CPEC is like building the Road and Belt.

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.

For both China and Pakistan, CPEC will instill greater vitality and a stronger economic content to our all-weather strategic partnership.

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.

Ladies and Gentleman,

Work on CPEC is making steady progress. In the last two and half years since Prime Minister Nawaz Shairf and Premier Li Keqiang assumed offices, our two countries have achieved a broad consensus on planning and implementation of various infrastructure and energy projects as well as economic zones under the CPEC rubric.

Last April, on occasion of the historic visit of President Xi Jinping to Pakistan, our two countries signed more than 30 agreements and MoUs regarding CPEC — dealing mainly with Transport Infrastructure, Energy, Gwadar Port and Industrial Zones.

Transport projects endeavor to improve north-south and east-west linkages of our existing road/railways networks.

Energy projects seek to add nearly 10,000 MW to national grid in next three years to ease our acute electricity shortfalls.

Projects to develop Gwadar aim at improving port operations and connectivity, provide financing modalities and help in social sector development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Pakistan’s Government is pursuing prudent economic policies, which have stimulated economic recovery in the country and contributed to overall development. This has also helped in progress on CPEC.

In Pakistan of today, micro and macroeconomic indicators are improving, inflationary pressures have eased, budget borrowing is reduced and our currency is stable. International Credit Rating Agencies and independent monitors of international economy are making positive pronouncements on our national economy.

With economic progress and political stability, the government is now in a position to undertake key energy and infrastructure projects under CPEC rubric. Each CPEC project makes sound economic sense and fulfils international feasibility criteria.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we make steady progress in implementing various CPEC projects, let me assure you that the Government of Pakistan is not oblivious to the challenges confronting us. Instead, we are robustly addressing these challenges to the best of our abilities. In this context, I will highlight following two points:

One, we attach the highest importance to Security of Chinese workers in Pakistan. On special instructions of Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, a dedicated force is being raised for this purpose.

Two, Pakistan’s Government is mindful of ongoing debate within the country on the so-called “alignment” of CPEC. The Government continues inter-provincial coordination at the levels of Federal Cabinet and National Parliament to build national consensus on this issue. I am certain the democracy and constitutionalism, which are the bedrock of our federation, will drive the national consensus on this important issue.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I conclude by thanking our Chinese friends. I hope the academic communities of the two countries will keep taking interest in CPEC and One Belt One Road to improve our perspectives and enrich the discourse on these important initiatives.

Thank you.

15 January 2016

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