A Chinese-speaking Pakistani jeweller, Aqeel Ahmed Chaudhry, was very pleased at the recent China International Import Expo (CIIE), because the sapphires and other jewels he showed attracted many Chinese businessmen. In order to discover market opportunities in China, he was among many Pakistani businessmen who actively participated in this big global trade gala. With a combined plan to trade of $72.62 billion, the CIIE has successfully concluded, a rise of 2.1 percent over the previous year.
President Xi Jinping, in his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the Third CIIE, vowed to turn the Chinese economy into a market for the world, a market owned by all and a market available to all in order to bring more constructive energies to the global community. The speech made by President Xi thoroughly showed China’s confidence in the international community’s collaboration, which stems from three facets.
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Second, it emerges from China’s big strategic success in the war against the pandemic of Covid-19. The Chinese Communist Party adheres to the policy of the people and the life-first principle. From 30-hour-old babies to 100-year-olds, all lives are completely secured.
At present, new cases in China have fallen sharply to single digits on a regular basis. China’s economy, meanwhile, has seen a stable pattern of change. In the first three years, positive economic growth was achieved. International trading grew by 0.7 percent and the real use of foreign resources increased by 5.2 percent, giving a significant boost to the global economy’s rebound.
Second, the confidence of China derives from the great accomplishments made during the duration of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020). It is projected that China’s GDP will reach 100 trillion RMB in 2020. As many as 55.75 million rural people have been eliminated from poverty, more than 60 million new jobs have been developed in urban areas, and China has built the world’s largest social security scheme, with basic medical insurance covering more than 1.3 billion people and basic endowment insurance covering almost 1 billion people.
Thirdly, China’s confidence derives from the growth priorities proposed by the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China for the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025). This year, China would accomplish the aim of completing the creation, in all respects, of a relatively stable society and eradicating poverty. China will launch a new journey toward fully creating a modern socialist nation from next year onwards.
We also set out to encourage a modern growth model in reaction to changing conditions and new needs, with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and foreign circulations supporting each other. It is not a growth loop behind closed doors that we foresee, but more open domestic and international circulation. We would do this not only to satisfy China’s own needs for growth, but also to help citizens in all countries more effectively. Some countries have opted to follow protectionism and put up trade barriers in the face of the effect of Covid-19 on the global economy, while China has chosen to reinforce collaboration and connectivity and increase transparency. We need to follow the concept of mutually beneficial partnership, as President Xi points out we need to create trust instead of second-guessing each other; we need to link hands instead of throwing punches at each other and we need to consult rather than slander each other.
Countries need to work to make economic globalisation more transparent, inclusive and sustainable for the good of all, taking into account the shared values that bind us all. In the future, China will be gradually widening its all-round opening and finding more productive ways to connect domestic and foreign markets and share supply and resource factors. It would offer more opportunities for collaboration between China and Pakistan.
The first opportunity occurs as the growth plans of the two countries are synergized. As all-weather strategic partners, China and Pakistan give each other opportunities for growth. China will move towards ultimately achieving the long-term aim of socialist transformation from now to 2035. The total national strength of China will continue to grow, improving its willingness to participate in international economic cooperation and competition.
We admire the Pakistani government’s efforts to create a ‘Naya Pakistan’ and are prepared to work with Pakistan to share governance expertise and join hands for shared prosperity.
The BRI partnership is the second chance. As the BRI’s main groundbreaking initiative, the CPEC has made rapid progress in the last three years, changing the Pakistani economy and culture. According to the latest estimates, the Chinese investment in Pakistan increased to $332.1 billion in the first four months of this fiscal year (July-October) against the adve-reverse effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, comprising 45 percent of the overall FDI.
China will encourage the high-quality growth of the BRI during the 14th Five-Year Plan cycle, advance high-standard CPEC projects, ensure the smooth execution and activity of ongoing projects, and devote more money to manufacturing, agriculture, science and technology, and social welfare, so that more people will benefit from our bilateral cooperation.
Exports to China reflect the third chance. With a population of 1.4 billion and a middle-income population of over 400 million, China is the world’s largest economy. China is both the biggest trading partner and Pakistan’s second largest export destination. The zero-tariff products between the two countries were extended to 75pc when the CPFTA Phase II came into operation this year. China not only extends a zero tariff on goods such as wool, leather and nuts from Pakistan, but also strongly supports the export of cherry, potato and onion products from Pakistani agriculture. China will broaden its domestic mega-market with robust demand over the next five years, encouraging dual distribution at home and abroad. This will help Pakistan increase its exports to China, foster its economic growth and help solve the trade deficit crisis.
The fourth incentive is to work to minimise poverty. Under President Xi’s leadership, China has amazed the world with the miracle of reducing poverty by helping more than 10 million people to graduate from poverty each year over the past seven years. China will meet its goal as expected this year to enable all its rural poor to climb out of poverty below the current standard. Prime Minister Imran Khan also attaches great significance to the elimination of poverty and has spoken highly on many occasions of the successes of China in this aspect.
President Xi announced at the recent SCO summit that China backed the creation of a joint SCO working group on poverty reduction. We will share our experiences with Pakistan in terms of poverty reduction, bilaterally and multilaterally, and contribute to its effort to reduce poverty through cooperation.
The values that both China and Pakistan uphold are stability, prosperity and win-win cooperation. Let’s follow the pattern of the times to make good use of China’s golden growth opportunities, and work together in the New Age to create a stronger China-Pakistan Culture of Common Future.