BEIJING (Agencies): The Third Pakistan-China Think Tank Forum, held in Beijing on July 21, 2023, emphasized the significance of the transformative China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as the flagship project of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Ambassador Sohail Mahmood, Director General of the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI), highlighted CPEC’s pivotal role in fostering the Pakistan-China relationship and driving Pakistan’s economic progress and prosperity.

The forum, jointly organized by ISSI and the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) at the CICIR headquarters, welcomed a 15-member Pakistan delegation comprising diplomats, academics, researchers, and media representatives.

The “Decade of CPEC: Review and Outlook” seminar, following the plenary session, featured separate sessions moderated by experts, including Dr. Talat Shabbir, Director of the China-Pakistan Study Centre (CPSC) at ISSI; Dr. Hu Shisheng, Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at CICIR; and Dr. Lou Chunhao, Executive Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at CICIR.

Prominent speakers at the event included Ambassador Zhang Maoming, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Asian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of China; Ambassador Sohail Mahmood; Prof. Dr. Attaullah Shah, Vice Chancellor of Karakoram International University, Pakistan; Dr. Wang Xu, Executive Deputy Director of the Centre for South Asian Studies, Peking University; Ambassador Babar Amin, Former Ambassador of Pakistan to Norway and Australia; Dr. Mukesh Kumar Khatwani, Associate Professor at the University of Sindh; Dr. Wang Shida, Deputy Director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at CICIR; and Dr. Fouzia Hadi Ali, Associate Professor and Director of the Regional Integration Centre at the University of the Punjab.

Ambassador Zhang Maoming, in his keynote address, reiterated the strong friendship between China and Pakistan and emphasized their unwavering support for each other. He highlighted that CPEC is a pilot project of the BRI and praised its progress over the last decade. He assured China’s continuous commitment to ensuring the high-quality development of CPEC in its second phase, with enhanced cooperation in agriculture, mining, science and technology, and information technology.

Dr. Fu Xiaoqiang, Vice President of CICIR, also stressed the significance of China-Pakistan relations and celebrated CPEC’s achievements in creating jobs, improving the energy sector, and expanding transportation infrastructure. He discussed how CPEC could be developed further through various models, ensuring its security remains closely monitored.

During the forum, participants deliberated on the challenges faced by CPEC and explored ways to address them. They emphasized the importance of countering negative narratives against CPEC and strengthening cooperation to achieve shared economic and regional development goals.

Ambassador Sohail Mahmood, in his keynote remarks, underscored the strategic importance of Pakistan-China friendship, with CPEC being a practical manifestation of their growing relationship. He highlighted CPEC’s contributions to Pakistan’s economic growth and its role in regional connectivity and economic integration.

The forum concluded with optimism for the future of CPEC and affirmed China’s steadfast support for Pakistan’s development and prosperity. The event fostered a robust dialogue between think tanks from both countries and laid the groundwork for further collaboration to enhance the success of CPEC in the years ahead.

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