Pakistan, China march toward shared development, prosperity and progress: PM

Pakistan, China march toward shared development, prosperity and progress: PM

Islamabd: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said that Pakistan and China will carry shared values and march toward shared development, prosperity and progress together.

Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated Sharif on his election as prime minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

In his response, Sharif thanked Xi for his warm congratulations and continued support for Pakistan.

"I deeply value his sentiments not only for the people of Pakistan, for our friendship, but our mutual cooperation," Sharif said during an interview with Xinhua at the Prime Minister's Office in Islamabad, the first exclusive one with foreign media since his inauguration. "For me, it's a very good start."

This year marks the 73rd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan. Sharif said that over the past 70-plus years, the leaders of Pakistan and China have continuously cultivated and promoted bilateral friendship. The two countries have developed into all-weather strategic cooperative partners with a unique friendship like "iron brothers" that has stood the test of time.

"This friendship now must achieve higher heights," he added.

Sharif, 73, served three terms as chief minister of Pakistan's eastern Punjab province and has extensive experience in regional economic development and governance. When talking about Chinese modernization, Sharif said Pakistan should emulate the model.

"It is a great success model and success story," the prime minister said, recalling how generations of visionary Chinese leaders have led their people to create unprecedented development miracles, lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and providing vast rural populations with access to education, healthcare and employment.

Sharif said Chinese modernization has created growth centers and sectors competitive in the global market. "Despite challenges in recent years, China's growth has still gone steadily compared to other countries, which is a remarkable achievement," he added.

The prime minister said Pakistan could learn from the model to alleviate poverty, boost youth employment, and encourage small and medium entrepreneurship in agricultural, industrial, and information technology sectors across urban and rural areas.

Noting that Pakistan is among the first batch of countries joining the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative (GDI), Sharif said that Pakistan fully and firmly supports the GDI and Global Security Initiative. He believes such initiatives will strengthen the bond among global communities.

Noting that projects under the Belt and Road Initiative span across continents, Sharif said they contributed to alleviating poverty, reducing hunger, facilitating investment, and promoting education and health.

"There couldn't have been a better model for forging global societies together," Sharif said.
As a prominent project under the Belt and Road Initiative, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was featured in Sharif's first parliamentary speech after reelection.

Pakistan is now ready to move toward the second phase of CPEC, Sharif said, aiming to promote technological development and agriculture through the corridor.

Pakistan has established the Special Investment Facilitation Council, which will cut red tape and remove delays and inefficiencies for CPEC projects, Sharif said. The country is also planning to build industrial parks and export zones and looks forward to Chinese joint ventures in sectors such as textile and steel, which combine Chinese technologies with Pakistan's labor assets.

"Through those joint ventures, high-quality products in agriculture, industry, IT, etc., are produced to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and wealth and increase our production and exports," he added.

"China has been extremely helpful in promoting Pakistan's economic progress, and CPEC has played a very important role, which we really appreciate deeply," said Sharif.

The prime minister said Pakistan is working toward electrifying its transport system to cut import fuel costs and spend the money on development instead. The country also plans to acquire clean energy technologies from China and others.

Sharif said he looks forward to revisiting China, calling it a tradition for Pakistan's new leadership after inauguration. "China is our second home," he said.

"We made solemn commitments that we would work together," said Sharif, "and we would be together through thick and thin."