National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser on Thursday said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a backbone of our economy amid critical economic challenges of the country. Terming CPEC a fortune change of the country, Asad Qaiser said through knowledge sharing and technology transfer, we are hopeful that Pakistan would soon get out of the current economic quagmire. He said this during a special seminar titled “Six Years of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)” organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with Islamabad Stock Exchange (ISE) here at Islamabad. Asad said that it is heartening to note that CPEC in its second phase has now included the agriculture and social sector, which will help Pakistan to address the challenges of agriculture and social sector. On coronavirus outbreak in China, Asad said that through all thick and thin China always help Pakistan and in this catastrophe of coronavirus, despites concerns, the government and people of Pakistan will be standing with China and will provide all out support in their difficult times. Asad expressed the need for creating and converting the CPEC committee into a think tank and asked SDPI’s support in this regard. He also invited the business community and think tanks for economic policy inputs. Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing said that after 6 years successful implementation of CPEC project under the umbrella of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), it is now established that CPEC and other corridors under BRI are projects of international cooperation, where 126 countries joined these projects. He said BRI provided credible and tangible benefits to the beneficiary’s countries and CPEC is one of the successful examples. We are officially against the unilateralism and those against the BRI are against international cooperation, he added. “I am looking CPEC in the context of historic China and Pakistan relations, where CPEC provided new focus and new opportunities on economic front”, said Yao adding that CPEC under more clear and consistent policies coupled with set direction will help Pakistan in the long term. On coronavirus epidemic, Yao said that this catastrophe would not stop the economic cooperation between China and Pakistan, and we are thankful to the Pakistani government and people for showing solidarity in our difficult time which provide us strength and more confidence. Executive Director, SDPI, Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said that six years back when CPEC started, In Pakistan, the power system was crippled, as there was regular pattern of 2 hours power outage and now one can see the difference only due to CPEC investment in energy sector. He said there are some myths that are associated with CPEC such as China’s CPEC model is new colonialism and Pakistan will be full of Chinese workers and dominance, another myth is that Pakistan would fall in debt trap Gwadar is a strategic project and not a commercial project. Now after 6 years all these myths have no basis at all, he added. Dr Abid said that China is cooperating for shared prosperity and economic growth, where China has now become a de-facto common economic denominator for South Asia region. He said that the forthcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in New Delhi is of great importance, where China will play its role for regional stability by bringing two rivals on the table, India and Pakistan. “CPEC is not solution for all our ills, but an instrument to utilize best to solve our issues”, said Dr Abid adding that to achieve the potential benefits associated with CPEC and BRI, Pakistan needs to put its own house in order and to make the country favorable for the investments and businesses. Shakeel Ahmed Ramay, Head China Study Center, SDPI said that more than 600 million people still live in extreme poverty in the world, around 2 billion people need safe drinking water, 1.1 billion people need electricity and 263 million children are still out of school. To cope with these global challenges, the world, especially the developing countries, needs projects like CPEC and BRI which aim at improving regional integration, increasing trade and stimulating economic growth. He said that BRI is really helping counter extreme poverty, particularly in developing countries, through the provision of employment opportunities and boosting exports. BRI is different than other regional projects as it promotes harmony and peace through development, pre-emptive economic strike (PES), and encourage eco-civilization which is sustainable development plus, he added. To ensure success of CPEC, Pakistan needs to have a comprehensive Special Economic Zones (SEZs) policy to materialise CPEC projects with success, Ramay suggested. President, Islamabad Stock Exchange (ISE), Zahid Latif Khan said that CPEC is the most successfully implemented project under BRI. The governments of China and Pakistan is expanding its scope in global value chain, social sector development, and blue economy etc., which will provide the gateways for the business to grow. He said that to boost exports, Pakistan needs export surplus, in order to get benefits from Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and special concessions.