A 17-member delegation of Council of Pakistan Newspaper editors paid a weeklong visit to China with an idea to promote bilateral relations between Pakistan and China giving a big boost to people-to-people contacts.
The newspaper editors were well received and properly briefed on various issues, including regional affairs and conflicts and role of regional countries in those conflicts.
It was my sixth visit to the People’s Republic of China and in the previous visits I was part of the official delegations of the Presidents and Prime Ministers besides I attended the 50th anniversary of the Chinese Revolution in 1997 and witnessed the most impressive military parade of my life.
In that military Parade, the People’s Army displayed for the first time the Chinese version of Patriot Missile or anti-missile system. Thousands of foreign guests from all over the world witnessed the Parade. Presidents and Prime Ministers headed their delegation on the 50th anniversary of the Chinese Revolution.
Chinese officials and functionaries who briefed us extensively considered Pakistan as an ally and good neighbour and the Chinese were found ready in helping Pakistan in many fields.
A senior official of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefed the CPNE delegation in depth explaining the policies of the Chinese Government on many regional conflicts.
He empathetically denied that China had occupied any part of Kashmir. Nor China is part of the Kashmir dispute. The Indians had leveled the charge that China had occupied part of Kashmir in the Ladakh region. China is using its power and influence in seeking solutions to all the disputes in the south Asia and West Asia region.
Chinese were laying more emphasis on economic cooperation and development among the regional countries than on controversial political issues or territorial conflicts.
The issue of One Belt, One Road was very hot during the week long trips to China and it was discussed in depth among the newspaper editors after the break following formal briefings.
However, our interest was more in the CPEC than the One Belt, One Road. At the dry port in Urumqi, Provincial Capital of Muslim dominated Xingjian, a formal briefing revealed many details of the project.
The Chinese confirmed that they will build an international Highway up to Khunjerab, the border township between Pakistan and China. The remaining part of the Highway linking Khunjerab with rest of Pakistan will be built by the Government of Pakistan according to its own needs and requirements.
The map shown to us at the briefing spot indicated a single road passing through Pakistan linking Xingjian with Gwadar. There was no issue of Western or Eastern route linking China with Gwadar Port.
Mr. Ahmed Iqbal Baloch, CEO of VASH TV, asked a question about the “Gwadar Master Plan” of which the Chinese officials were unaware. There were reports in our newspapers that China is preparing Master Plan for Gwadar Port city. Pakistani officials were misleading the public opinion claiming that the Mast Plan is being prepared by the Chinese. It is the job of the Local Government department to prepare it.
The briefing at the Foreign Office was also candid conceding the slow pace of development to Gwadar related projects saying that priority is being given to establish 10 or more industrial zones in Pakistan. The industrial zones will generate economic activities for the Gwadar Port in near future, the official told newspaper editors.
There was a massive plan for transportation of goods from China to Europe via Russia using train service. More than 250 goods’ trains will be operated by the Chinese Government in cargo shuttle service from China to other end of Southern Europe, mainly Spain. More Cargo trains will be operated in other parts of the Eastern Asia in a move to integrate the world economies through rail/road connectivity. ON return, the Chinese train will bring Timber from Russia, the CPNE delegation was told by the Chinese official at the briefing.
It may be recalled that the Chinese Government operated test cargo train from China to Tehran using the railway track of Turkmenistan earlier this year revealing the facts that China is already connected with Iran via rail link. The Chinese traders brought cheap goods on more than 70 boogies during the test run of the Chinese Train.
China had built a huge Railway factory manufacturing railway engines and its parts on a large scale meeting the demand for the huge railway network to operate more than 250 cargo trains.
Chinese were found giving more importance to establishing 10 Industrial Zones to boost economic development of generate more employment opportunities in Pakistan. The infrastructure development for Gwadar Port had been placed on the back burner as the Chinese are yet to build the huge International Airport, lining Gwadar Port with the Coastal Highway bypassing the populated areas of Gwadar, the railway line linking Gwadar with other landlocked countries of the region.
The Chinese are operating a small desalination plant to meet the requirement of Chinese work force busy in development work at Gwadar Port.
The Government of Pakistan is yet to buy land for building the railway track and marshalling yard of the port. The fund was allocated for the marshalling yard during the fiscal year of 2016 and they are not used to this date.
China is the second powerful country of the world in terms of its military and economic power. The huge infrastructure built at Urumqi was impressive in all respect. The Chinese people are enjoying the fruits of development by retaining peace for over 68 long years and the leaders kept China away from wars. The Chinese resisted all the provocation of wars during the Korean War or the Vietnam war which ended at 1970s. The Chinese restrain paid the dividends to the people in terms of massive economic development or making China the second most powerful economic and military power. China left behind Japan years ago and now China is ahead of Japan in all respect.