Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday proposed to upgrade the USD 60 billion CPEC during a meeting with Pakistan's caretaker Prime Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar here but sought "effective measures" to ensure security for hundreds of Chinese workers who faced frequent attacks from militants in the country.
Kakar along with Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickramasinghe is here to attend the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation being hosted by Xi.
Xi assured Kakkar that China will continue to support Pakistan in safeguarding national sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity.
In his speech at the concluding session of the meeting on Wednesday, Xi promised that two Chinese-backed development banks – the China Development Bank and the Export–Import Bank of China – will each set up 350 billion yuan (USD 47.9 billion) financing windows. An additional 80 billion yuan (USD11 billion) will be invested in Beijing’s Silk Road Fund to support BRI projects.
Pakistan is the largest recipient of BRI funding for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). India, which boycotted the BRI Forum meeting, has protested against the project as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
In his meeting with Kakar, Xi said that China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperative partners and ironclad friends, noting that successive Pakistani governments have actively supported and participated in the Belt and Road Initiative cooperation.
He said over the past 10 years, the CPEC has achieved fruitful results, effectively promoting Pakistan's economic and social development, and becoming an important signature project of the Belt and Road cooperation.
Xi pointed out that the two countries should build an upgraded version of the CPEC that promotes growth, people's well-being, innovation, green development, and openness.
They should also strengthen cooperation in fields including industrial parks, agriculture, mining, and new energy, and facilitate the early implementation of major connectivity projects for tangible results, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
He also expressed the hope that the Pakistani side will take effective measures to ensure the safety of Chinese personnel and institutions in Pakistan.
Several Chinese workers and engineers working on major infrastructure projects under the CPEC in Pakistan have been killed in militant attacks on them in the past, prompting China to demand stepped-up security for its personnel.
The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Pakistan's Balochistan with China's Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of China's ambitious multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI is seen as an attempt by China to further its influence abroad with infrastructure projects funded by Chinese investments all over the world.
Kakar said that the eight major steps announced by President Xi to support high-quality Belt and Road cooperation will not only strengthen global connectivity but also promote a more just and reasonable global governance system, providing important opportunities for Pakistan and other countries to achieve better development.
He said that Pakistan will always be a reliable and trustworthy friend of China and will never allow any force to undermine the Pakistan-China friendship.
Pakistan will also be committed to deepening the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership with China, he added.
Pakistan is willing to closely cooperate with China to promote high-quality development of the CPEC. The Pakistani government will spare no effort to ensure the safety and interests of Chinese personnel and institutions in Pakistan, Kakar said.