Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong on Monday said that the development projects under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have achieved major progress despite challenges posed by Covid-19 pandemic. “It is fair to say that both sides have overcome the difficulties brought by Covid-19 and made new headways in a coordinated way. There was no stoppage of construction work, no job cuts and no withdrawal of workforce from CPEC projects,” the Chinese ambassador told an award ceremony held in honour of outstanding Pakistani staff working at CPEC projects. “Many Chinese workers have overcome difficulties and stayed in their posts in Pakistan. Each of the hard-earned achievements are the results of the sweat and joint efforts of both sides. We have written a new and touching chapter of China-Pakistan friendship through our cooperation,” he maintained. The ambassador said CPEC is an important pilot project of the Belt and Road Initiative and a demonstration project of China-Pakistan cooperation. “It is vital to deepening China-Pakistan all-weather strategic cooperative partnership for building a closer community of shared future and the realization of high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative,” he said. “During the past five years since President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan, the CPEC has achieved great success and made tremendous contributions to the development of Pakistan and regional connectivity under the joint efforts of the governments, enterprises, and all walks of life from both countries,” he further said. “Based on consensus of both governments, we have further expanded the CEPC cooperation from Gwadar Port, energy, infrastructure development and industrial cooperation to new areas of agriculture, science and technology, social economy and international cooperation,” he added. The ambassador said the CPEC has not only supported Pakistan’s fight against Covid-19 by ensuring economic stability and wellbeing of the people but also continues to train high-quality talent for the country. “We are pleased to see that during the Covid-19, CEPC energy projects have provided one thirds of power supply across Pakistan. The focus for energy cooperation has been shifted from addressing power shortage to its structural adjustments,” he said. “In Lahore, the operation of the Orange Line project has brought Pakistan into a metro era. There has been increase of port handling capacity in Gwadar Port. The transit trade for Afghan goods through Gwadar Port has been officially launched, helped the sustainable supply of daily necessities for people of Pakistan and Afghanistan during Covid-19 period,” he further said. “China and Pakistan further promoted industrial cooperation with the signing of the development agreement of Rashakai Economic Zone. We have also completed a number of environment-friendly social economic projects such as the expansion work of Faqur School in Gwadar, China-Pakistan Friendship Forest, aid of disaster relief facilities, donation of cold-chain vaccine storage and transportation equipment in a timely manner,” he added. The ambassador said after overcoming the challenge of Covid-19 pandemic, China and Pakistan can find more solid ground on Belt and Road cooperation. “We are more motivated in furthering the CPEC, and the prospects of our all-around cooperation have been further widened. In the next stage, we will work with Pakistan to further implement the consensus reached by leaders of our two countries, making more coordination of CPEC cooperation with ‘Naya Pakistan’ initiative,” he further said. “On the basis of ensuring smooth construction and operation of the on-going projects, we will focus more on areas of industrial cooperation, agriculture and social economy, and promote CPEC into a demonstration project for high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative,” he added. The ambassador said 18 outstanding Pakistani staff attending the ceremony are from Gwadar Port, energy, infrastructure and other fields of the CPEC construction. “They are outstanding representatives of Pakistani staff in all fields of CPEC cooperation and demonstrate the diversification of China-Pakistan cooperation in the new era. On behalf of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Pakistan, I would like to extend my warm congratulations and heartfelt gratitude to all those who have won the award for your excellent service. At the same time, I would also like to express my gratitude to all the companies and their staff working on the CPEC projects for their continuous contribution in advancing CPEC cooperation,” he said. CPEC Authority Chairman Lt Gen (r) Asim Salim Bajwa also attended the ceremony and thanked the Chinese Embassy for arranging a ceremony to encourage Pakistani staff working on CPEC projects.