Nisar A. Memon
April 24, 2019 – Pakistan Observer
“Friendship between China and Pakistan is based on trust and mutual support, and we have been devoted friends through both good and hard times,” said the Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Pakistan was amongst the first countries in 1950 to recognize People’s Republic of China as the sole representative of Chinese people, by ending its relations with Taiwan government. Since then, both the countries have maintained and consolidated relationship in socio-economic areas leading to establishing China-Pakistan Economic Corridor as part of President Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative. CPEC is central to Pakistan’s strategic plans and builds on already completed Gwadar Port and all weather Shahra-e-Resham (Silk Road) entering from China through Khunjerab Pass in Karakorum Mountain into Gilgit region in Pakistan.
Pakistan appreciates support of China on Kashmir and in our fight against terrorism, while China remembers Pakistan’s diplomatic endeavors of linking it with USA. On the occasion of Pakistan Prime Minister’s visit to China, the people of Pakistan hope to see socio-economic development under CPEC with establishment of Special Economic Zones and various other projects en-route Gwadar in our four provinces, starting with Gilgit Baltistan.
The Pakistan’s trade deficit with China of US$ 9.7 billion in FY18 could be reduced by enabling greater exports from Pakistan and Chinese investment in our export and service industries. The joint ventures in world class hotels in Pakistan where Chinese tourists will feel home, is a good first step that can be announced to attract Chinese tourist to beautiful GB mountains and many historic sites and cities of Pakistan. In addition, many past MOUs should see the light of the day during this visit.
BRI and CPEC commenced in 2013 has already extended from South Asia, through the Central Asia to Europe, to Africa and now to South America and BRI is envisioned to connect all the Continents. In 2018, the Chinese leadership announced Digital Silk Road (DSR) which aims to construct communications networks across the developing world. China is looking to build fibre optic cables, international trunk passage ways, mobile structures and e-commerce links.
The submarine fiber optic cables of China, when completed in 2020, expected to become the shortest route for high-speed internet traffic between Asia and Africa. The cable planned to begin in Gwadar which is a key part of CPEC – a flagship, and said to be ‘probably the flagship corridor of China’s Belt and Road.’
China’s launch of 5G technology is estimated to cover about half the globe in five years with over a billion people will actually be using 5G technology. Therefore the fibre optic cables, satellites and other hard infrastructure that is supporting the information and communications technology business, along with 5G mobile technology will enhance the e-commerce which is expected to unite the world in a digital economy.
Pakistan’s existing telecommunication infra structure of internet with spread of computers achieved over the years and estimated 50 million smart phones; provide an opportunity for e-commerce. Our Prime Minister and his team should take the opportunity to grab this mega business opportunity for which we are well positioned. This will also mean yet another flagship of Digital Silk Road like CPEC is flagship for BRI. Based on this, we can build the Smart Cities using the technologies to improve the quality of life for our people. While the Chinese government promotes Digital Silk Road initiative, the Chinese private companies have taken the lead in materializing concrete projects.
Digital Economy will link not only the people of our country; young or old, men or women, rural or urban, agro based or industry based, developed or developing into its fold but bring the people of China, Region and the World closer for better quality of life, in peace and harmony.