Interview with Zhao Lijian, Chinese Deputy Chief of Mission

20 Jan

Excellency, please share a brief introduction and tell us about your achievements/key appointments?

Zhao Lijian: Well, this is my third appointment. My first appointment was in 1999 in Islamabad and worked four and half year and then I served in Washington DC USA and now since 2015 I am working as DCM at the Islamabad embassy.

What are your views regarding relations between China and Pakistan?

China and Pakistan have all weather strategic partners, sharing good history and best friends. I would saw iron brothers to each other. Pakistan and China are enjoying best mutual, trade, bilateral, cultural and social relations.

  How you look at the Pak-China trade ties and what are the Key sectors?

Pakistan and China both are enjoying exemplary political relationship and now with China Pakistan Economic Corridor, this relation has been diversified into economic cooperation, trade, infrastructure development and science and technology. China had invested massive in Power and Infrastructure sectors that resulted in improved electricity and better road network in Pakistan under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

 What are the opportunities to improve the trade relations between these two countries?

CPEC is the flagship project of China’s One belt one road initiative and we see more solid base for our relationship and it will grow further in coming days. Recently I was nominated as the focal person for ongoing power projects under the CPEC to facilitate and resolution of issues pertaining to the ongoing projects under the CPEC in order to ensure their timely completion. This reflects the seriousness of the Pakistani government and it will further strengthen our brotherly relations.

We acknowledged the Power Sector performance as a success story under the CPEC. More than 11000 MW electricity has been added to the national grid. I remember in 2013 when I visited Islamabad with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, I was told that Islamabad is facing 7 to 8 hours load shedding and now its zero. China made huge investment in power sectors under CPEC. This will ultimately help Pakistan to meet its domestic and industrial need.

Will China inject more investment under CPEC?

CPEC project has four key areas marked as top priority, Power, Infrastructure, Gawadar port and Special Economic Zones (SEZ). With heavy investments in power and infrastructure, within four years, everyone in Pakistan can witness the progress made in these areas. CPEC’s early harvest projects would be completed at a rapid pace. Now we have low load shedding and better road network, motorways and this will help the overall economy of Pakistan. Now we are heading towards the next phase, SEZ (industrial cooperation) and we both Pakistani and Chinese Governments are working hard to complete all projects given under CPEC timeline.

Where do you see role of Business Community/Private Sector of both countries in terms of joint ventures?

As I said that now we are heading towards industrial cooperation phase where both governments have identified nine economic/industrial zones. Here I would say a big opportunity for the private sector. The real purpose of CPEC was to help Pakistan to develop its industrial sector. This will generate more jobs and manufacturing sector will help to increase the exports. The largest adventure for private sector here is cheap labor. Keeping large population and consumer market of Pakistan, CPEC will attract more foreign investment. Pakistani companies can help foreign investors to market their products, another advantage. The joint ventures between Chinese and Pakistani companies, having a benefit of expertise, low labor cost, English language and a win win situation for both of them.

 Language and skill set is a big issue in reaping true benefits of CPEC, what steps will be taken from your country in improving industry academia linkages?

China is encouraging international students to study in China. China is the seventh largest country who has more foreign students. According to official data (year 2016) available more than 18000 Pakistani students are studying in China. Chinese government is offering largest number of scholarships to Pakistani students. Out of these 18000 students 5000 were given scholarships in different universities. This reflects special and cordial relationship between China and Pakistan. We continue to encourage Pakistani students to visit China.

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