Friday Jan 24, 2020
ISLAMABAD: The Chinese government on Thursday asked Pakistan to convene the 10th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) meeting under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor framework ahead of schedule in order to finalise different mega projects, reported The News.
The meeting of the joint committee will discuss the railways Mainline (ML-1) project of $9.2 billion, as well as other CPEC-related initiatives, before the expected arrival of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Islamabad in May or early June 2020, claimed The News.
The official communication from Beijing in this regard, asking Islamabad to convene the 10th meeting of the JCC in April 2020, instead of the scheduled time that had been set for June or July 2020, was sent out by the National Development Reform Commission of China.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led government has already notified the ministerial committee under chairmanship of Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar to make arrangements for the upcoming visit of the Chinese President to Pakistan.
The previous meeting of the joint committee was held in Islamabad in June 2019, and it was expected that the next meeting would be held in the summer of 2020, according to The News. The government, the publication claimed, had been caught off-guard by the Chinese request.
If the 10th meeting of the JCC is to be held ahead of schedule, the government will have to kick-start preparation for finalising the feasibility and other reports of different projects for inclusion in second phase of the economic corridor, The News claimed.
"The next JCC will be held in April 2020 so that both sides can finalise second phase projects of CPEC ahead of scheduled visit of Chinese president," Minister for Planning Asad Umar told The News when asked about the Chinese request and the Pakistani response to the matter.
"The modernisation of rail line from Peshawar to Karachi with approximate cost of $9.2 billion will be among other projects that will be executed under the second phase of CPEC. The government will convene a meeting next week to firm up list of projects," he added.
Pakistan and China so far executed $29 billion under CPEC for energy and infrastructure projects, and most of these projects are either completed or nearing completion, according to the report.
Meanwhile, responding to a statement of US Acting Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells on CPEC earlier this week, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Planning said that CPEC projects under the overarching umbrella of BRI were a well-thought-out initiative.
"The projects completed so far in Phase-1 of CPEC have already brought relief and started yielding dividends and tangible socio-economic benefits. CPEC projects will accelerate the pace of development in the country boosting economic growth," the spokesperson added.
"Pakistan, being a sovereign state exercises the right to choose economic partners from around the globe on mutually beneficial basis. All related projects are being pursued as per laws and regulations of Pakistan and through an institutional mechanism wherein transparency is a priority."
Originally published in The News