China welcomes Saudi’s inclusion in CPEC

Ambassador of People's Republic of China to Pakistan Yao Jing. (APP)
Updated 11 October 2018

China welcomes Saudi’s inclusion in CPEC

  • Both Beijing and Islamabad have agreed to expand multi-billion dollar project
  • Envoy says investment from other countries also welcome

ISLAMABAD: Encouraging other countries to follow suit, China’s envoy to Pakistan on Wednesday welcomed Saudi Arabia’s inclusion as an investor in the prestigious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project. 

“We will welcome Saudi Arabia and other countries’ investment in CPEC projects. China wants to expand the CPEC [all the way] up to central Asian states via Afghanistan,” ambassador Yao Jing said while addressing a gathering of businessmen and journalists in Quetta. 

He also held important discussions with members of the provincial administration during his visit to Quetta, the capital city of the Balochistan province.

“Both China and Pakistan have agreed to further expand the CPEC,” he said, adding that the two countries will take a decision based on an agreed understanding of the project. 

Yao’s statement laid to rest concerns in Pakistan about a potential Saudi investment in the multi-billion dollar initiative. The political apprehensions were a result of statements made by officials following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the Kingdom last month whereby they had labeled Riyadh as CPEC's “third strategic partner”. 

Opposition parties, who had previously worked with the Chinese government, had raised concerns on whether the current administration realized that the project was based on a bilateral agreement between China and Pakistan. The issue also came up for discussion in the senate with some lawmakers questioning whether Islamabad had taken Beijing into confidence before inviting Riyadh to join the project.

On Wednesday, Yao said that the Pakistani authorities were deeply interested in socio-economic development and that the country’s less-developed western provinces would get more resources and employment opportunities because of the project. “China will help develop agriculture, industry and other sectors in Balochistan,” he said. “The province would be the main beneficiary of the economic corridor since Chinese investors would get new trade and investment opportunities in Balochistan.” 

The ambassador also noted that some projects under the CPEC banner would be revisited in line with the new government’s agenda and vision for the country. 

The CPEC, which is now said to be worth more than $60 billion, is part of Beijing’s famous Belt and Road Initiative. Its fundamental objectives include infrastructure development, power generation and strengthening of Pakistan’s agricultural sector. 

Given the scale of the project and its vision, many experts believe that the CPEC has the potential to change the economic geography of the region.

Pakistan plans to boost space program with UAE collaboration

Updated 53 min 2 sec ago

Pakistan plans to boost space program with UAE collaboration

  • Pakistan in talks with the UAE for help in “satellite manufacturing and relevant applications”
  • Signed last year an agreement with China to send its first mission into space by 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is exploring options to collaborate with the United Arab Emirates for its nascent space program, a senior official at Pakistan’s bureaucratic space agency said on Thursday, in joint ventures that could potentially boost the country’s socioeconomic development and national security.

Last year, Pakistan announced that it had signed an agreement with China to send the country’s first mission into space by 2022. 

“The UAE is one of our best friends in the Muslim world and collaboration in space-related activities will help both the Emirates and Pakistan,” Hassam Muhammad Khan, spokesman for the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco), told Arab News.

He said that space technology required “huge funds and special skills” and thus Pakistan was in talks with the UAE “in satellite manufacturing and relevant applications.” 

Khan said Pakistan was a strong believer in the peaceful use of outer space and wanted to use technology only for socioeconomic development and national security. 

“The UAE has its own strengths in space technology and we want to benefit from them,” he added.

Pakistan currently has four remote-sensing and communications satellites in total – two ground stations and two in orbit. In July last year, Pakistan launched two satellites with the help of China, enhancing its ability to predict and ascertain levels of precipitation, and runoff water, for a given area in the country.

Dr. Qamar ul Islam, the head of the Department of Space Science at the Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad, said Pakistan lacked satellite launch facilities and capabilities and thus had “to seek assistance of friendly countries.”

“The real issues Pakistan faces at the moment are lack of funding, but our collaboration with the UAE in the space sector can really prove beneficial for both countries,” he told Arab News. “It has become crucial for Pakistan to have a good presence in outer space to protect its sovereignty and ensure security.”

Pakistan participated in this year’s Global Space Congress held in Abu Dhabi on March 19 for the first time and shared the details about their satellite related projects with the audience. SUPARCO was representing Pakistan in this event in UAE where the secretary of SUPARCO Dr. Arif Ali said that the commission was in initial level talks with the UAE for potential collaboration in its space program.