Pakistan on Saturday suggested the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries to establish tourism corridor for cultural and tourism exchanges between the members countries.
Addressing the leaders’s roundtable meeting of second BRI forum in Beijing, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has praised the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s initiative and said BRI would break barriers among the countries to connect people and integrate economies and share prosperity.
“I feel that to further boost connectivity and benefits under the BRI umbrella, we should consider further areas including digital connectivity, mobility of labour, cultural links to assist the development of tourism which increases jobs and small businesses,” Khan suggested.
Explaining the multibillion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Khan added that it is a collection of projects in road, rail, energy and other fields, aimed at overcoming constraints and achieving growth.
BRI, proposed by China in 2013, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa. Currently 126 countries and 29 international organizations of the world have signed the documents and became part of the initiative.
“We are building highways, modernizing railroads, setting up power plants, establishing a port, and establishing Special Economic Zones. And a new port is connecting regions and eventually continents,” Khan explained.
Highlighting the importance of his country, Pakistani premier said that his country is at the cross-roads of important regions and throughout their history, they have connected ideas, cultures, and commerce.
“Connectivity has been a part of our heritage and CPEC is giving it modern shape in the 21st Century. As our region becomes more linked and prosperous, my expectation is that we will find it easier to find common solutions for longstanding problems,” Khan hoped.
Khan said that the connectivity of Gwadar Port with China’s Xinjiang region will provide a shorter route for China’s imports compared to the South China Sea, reduce the cost for Chinese companies, and develop western China as well.
The $64 billion mega-project signed in 2014 aims to connect China’s strategically important northwestern Xinjiang province to Gwadar port through a network of roads, railways, and pipelines to transport cargo, oil, and gas.
The economic corridor will not only provide China cheaper access to Africa and the Middle East but will also earn Pakistan billions of dollars for providing transit facilities to the world’s second-largest economy.