PM’s Visit to China & Geo-Economics of BRF 2023 By Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
MOST recently, the caretaker Prime Minister Anwar Ul Haq Kakar visited China and attended the 3rd BRF 2023. During his stay he met the Chinese Premier Li Qiang and President Xi Jinping. During their detailed meetings both sides thoroughly discussed matters of mutual interests and gearing-up of bilateral ties and initiation of CPEC Phase-II projects in the country. It is evident that the Chinese leadership has reaffirmed their support for Pakistan and CPEC which show their strategic vision of openness, modernization, global community for shared development and qualitative industrial development. It is good omen that Prime Minister Kakar succeeded to achieve the approval and inclusion of new meaningful projects under the flagship project of CPEC mainly ML-1 which is indeed the real outcome of his visit to Beijing.
The signing of many new MOUs mainly in commerce, communication, deepening of research on the BRI projects, exchange of experts, climate change, transport, vaccine cooperation, agriculture/food security, industrial cooperation, green energy (solar parks) and last but not the least, urban sustainable development will open vistas of cooperation and coordination between the two sides and private companies to make investment in the days to come. In this regard, ML-1 (US$ 7 billion) would be game changer for the upgradation, expansion and connectivity of Pakistan Rails in the country. Definitely after completion, it would be an engine of inter-provincial connectivity and stimulating force for business activities and commerce.
In addition to this, approval of green energy, building of solar parks would also be another new value addition in the CPEC Phase-II. Critical analysis establishes that the Chinese latest pledges and singing of numerous MoUs will further enhance its tally of foreign direct investment which is currently dried in the country. The building of solar parks will further enhance energy generating power in the country which will be a giant step toward cheaper, environment & human friendly era, reducing even sky-high energy import bill of Pakistan. Furthermore, substantial development in urban sustainable development would open window of opportunity for smart/green living, mitigating the effects of looming global warming which has reached boiling point around the world.
Geopolitically and geo-strategically, Premier Kakar’s visit to Beijing also represents a diplomatic success. The emerging trends in the Middle East due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, deteriorating law and order situations/terrorism in different regions of Afghanistan, the increasing military presence of the US in the Asia Pacific region, and, last but not the least, the widening gap between the Global North and Global South through unilateral economic protectionism, socio-economic sanctions, technological bans, and CHIP (China, Huawei, Iran, and Pakistan) have further marginalized the brighter prospects for Pakistan. The close political consultations, diplomatic support, and additional pledges of economic cooperation, especially in CPEC Phase-II, hold great significance.
The true spirits of geo-economics and holistic spirits of the Chinese wisdom of international cooperation, economic globalization, modernization, digitalization, e-commerce, development of human capital and green energy mesmerized the audience in the recently held 3rd BRF 2023 which clearly highlighted the Chinese economic power in terms of industrial diversification, modern technologies, green energy and human capital attracting more and more multinational companies and business houses to make investment. Xi’s announcement of new Global Initiative of AI is a new value addition in the strategic expansion of the BRI in the future which will definitely further increase spirits of development and digitalization in the member countries.
In this context, the BRF CEO conference, with agreements and contracts totaling US$92.5 billion, vividly reflects China’s current economic strength and its promising future in the days to come. Transport, green energy, digital cooperation, bio-medicine, tourism and people to people were the main areas of business deals. The participation of more than 1000 representatives of businesses from all the continents endorsed the Chinese economic policies of openness and modernization. According to the Chinese figures its central SoEs invested over US$ 1 trillion with over 5000 BRI projects in the last decade. Simply all the member countries of the BRI were persuaded by the holistic and humanistic vision of Xi Jinping. Moreover, the participation of 140 countries and 30 international organizations also signalled the highest levels of positivity and productivity and healthy prospects of the Chinese macro-economy and, of course, the further strategic expansion of the One Belt One Road in the coming years around the globe.
For the further expansion, trans-regional connectivity, and greening of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Chinese President Xi Jinping announced several major steps. These include the construction of a multi-dimensional Belt and Road connectivity network, support for an open world economy, initiation of various livelihood projects, pilot zones for Silk Road e-commerce cooperation, entry into free trade agreements and investment protection treaties with more countries, promotion of green development, advancement in scientific and technological innovation, fostering people-to-people exchanges, generating integrity-based Belt and Road cooperation, and institutional building for international Belt and Road cooperation. Thus, it showcases the new strategic roadmap for the BRI in the next decade, which relies on economic development, socio-economic integration, trans-regional connectivity, green transformation, investment, innovations and digitalization.
In summary, Premier Kakar’s visit to Beijing brought further deepening of bilateral relations and further strengthening of cooperation in diverse sectors of the economy, industry, innovation, modernization and CPEC Phase-II. The approval of ML-1 is the most significant achievement of his visit to China which holds great socio-economic and industrial significance. Achieving political and diplomatic support for mitigating the emerging geopolitical and geostrategic ramifications is another substantial success of Premier Kakar’s visit to BRF 2023.
The speech of the Chinese President Xi Jinping was highly constructive, positive and effective. It was a positive message of hope to all the member countries and rest of the world. It carried the commitment of joint cooperation for achieving the goals of modernization, qualitative industrialization and economic globalization which may be achieved through inclusiveness, openness, modernization and digitalization. President Xi termed the principles of consultation, cooperation, and shared benefits, openness, green, and clean development, as well as high standards and sustainability as the core foundations of the BRI in the last ten years. Hopefully, these guiding principles will also be important tool for high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. Hopefully Xi’s Global Development, Global Security, Global Civilizational and Global Artificial Intelligence Initiatives would further foster the green BRI in the world.
—The writer is Executive Director, Centre for South Asia & International Studies, Islamabad, regional expert China, BRI & CPEC & senior analyst, world affairs, Pakistan Observer.
PM’s Visit to China & Geo-Economics of BRF 2023 By Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan