The China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has entered its second phase, with a focus on industry, agriculture, technology, tourism thus contributing to overall socio-economic development in the country, said Pakistan Ambassador to China, Moin ul Haque. The flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is also helping in the development of remote areas, creation of jobs, and improving the livelihoods of people, he said in a recent interview with Sun Chao, Head of Belt and Road Ambassador Interview Program, the Author of Global Leaders on the Belt and Road Initiative. Sharing his views on many important topics, including China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Ambassador Haque termed China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a transformational project for Pakistan. He said, the CPEC has facilitated the upgrade of our physical infrastructure, addressed our acute energy needs, and contributed to the development of Gwadar Port. It is very much in sync with Pakistan’s renewed focus on geo-economics and economic security. About the development of innovative sectors in Pakistan, he said, the emerging technologies like AI, robotics, 5G, big data, and quantum computing are having a huge impact on our lives. The useful applications of these technologies in sectors like trade,industry, agriculture, health and education cannot be denied. Consequently, this area has the necessary attention of the government of Pakistan. Ambassador Haque informed that an initiative called Digital Pakistan has been launched. The government has announced new policy package to promote innovation and research in IT areas. A number of incubation centers in the country have been established to assist new start-up companies. He said that a Special Technology Zones Authority has been set up with the mandate to promote and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, ensure facilitation to technology players through a collaborative approach between government, industry and academia. It is a fast-growing area of cooperation between China and Pakistan. Many Chinese technology companies are already working in Pakistan. Realizing the potential of our bilateral cooperation in IT sectors, we have established a Joint Working Group on IT under CPEC, he added. He informed that the two countries have recently agreed to launch China-Pakistan Digital Corridor to further enhance cooperation in this regard. In response to a question regarding people-to-people exchanges, he said that last year, the two countries celebrated 70 years of our diplomatic relations – an important milestone in our friendship journey of seven decades. We together organized more than 140 events, an extraordinary and unprecedented feat. Most of these events were in the field of culture, including art exhibitions, fashion shows, food festivals, literary gatherings and film festivals, he added. Ambassador Haque informed that the two countries also established 20 new sister province and sister city relations. These friendly agreements between our provinces and cities are now more than 40, and provide a solid framework for practical cooperation in the fields ofÂ trade, education, culture and people-to-people exchanges. He said that Pakistan and China are also promoting linkages between their academic institutions. There are a number of Pakistan study centers as well as Urdu Study Centers in many Chinese universities. Similarly, China has established Confucius Institutes in Pakistan. Chinese language is also gaining popularity in Pakistani schools and colleges. We must build on the current momentum and further broaden and intensify our ties in these areas, he added. Ambassador Haque informed that in order to further foster a better understanding, the two countries are also focusing on the area of tourism. An MoU on promoting tourism was signed in November 2021, and the Year 2023 will be celebrated as Year of Tourism Exchanges between our two countries. To a question about goal for future Pak-China relations and friendship, he said that as one of the special relationships in the world, our friendship is based on enduring trust, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. Whatever the circumstances, and whatever the regional and international environment, this relation has remained constant. He believed that the future of this relationship will be exceedingly bright, not only for our two countries, but also contributing to peace, progress and prosperity of our region and beyond. Ambassador Haque observed that there is complete consensus in our two countries to strengthen our all-weather strategic partnership; promote cooperation in the areas of industry, agriculture and IT, and continue our joint efforts to increase cultural exchanges and people-to-people contacts. Regarding China’s fight against poverty, he said that China’s remarkable progress in its poverty-alleviation programme is indeed impressive. Lifting more than 800 million people from absolute poverty is a miracle of modern times. This has been possible due to vision and wisdom of CPC leadership, meticulous planning and sustained efforts. It was a ‘whole-of-government’ and ‘whole-of-society’ approach, he added. About the valuable experience in China’s epidemic prevention and future challenges, he said that the way China handled the pandemic is particularly impressive. He congratulated the people and government of China for the decisive victory against the pandemic. You have basically controlled the epidemic in an effective, disciplined, and united manner, and to put it in Jinnah’s word, you have defeated the pandemic through, “Unity, faith, and discipline. He remarked that throughout this health crisis, China and Pakistan have supported each other and collaborated closely. Pakistan was the first country to get vaccine donation from China and added, to date, over 180 million doses have been provided, which are mainstay of Pakistan’s vaccine drive. Both the countries also jointly cooperated in the development of COVID-19 vaccine COVID-19 has shown that we require international cooperation and collective efforts to address global challenges. President Xi puts it that instead of sailing in different smaller boats, we should sail together in one big ship in order to weather bigger storms, he added. Ambassador Haque said that he considers it as a privilege to serve as Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, and contributes towards the growth of the most significant bilateral relationship that Pakistan has. This relationship is time-tested and timeless. It is only because of the nurturing by successive generations of our leadership and people that the friendship between Pakistan and China has remained unparallel in inter-state relations, he added. The relationship between our two countries is currently at a historic juncture, and it is incumbent on both our sides to seize this opportunity, build upon it and further strengthen the bilateral ties, building China-Pakistan community of shared future, he said.