by Raheela Nazir
ISLAMABAD, June 27 (Xinhua) -- The China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is crucial for global economic recovery in the post-pandemic era and building a community with a shared future for mankind by following a path of cooperation, unity and common development, said a Pakistani political economist.
"Enhanced constructive engagements based on the principle of win-win cooperation is the need of the hour to overcome the challenges posed by the still raging pandemic, and ensure sustainable global economic recovery," Shakeel Ahmad Ramay, director of the China Study Center at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, an Islamabad-based think-tank, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
He said that China is strongly committed to implementing the BRI for the common good, which is evident from the recently held high-level conference on the Belt and Road cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.
"It (conference) shows the strong commitment of China to global cooperation and sustainable recovery and development … China has assured its support to BRI countries. China is willing to provide market opportunities, investment opportunities and growth opportunities for global recovery," the expert said.
Terming the BRI a proactive constructive economic cooperation plan, Ramay said that despite the global economic disruptions and worldwide lockdowns, China did not pause the initiative and continue to pour investments into various countries, especially the least developed countries.
China kept on investing in BRI programs when the world was going through a serious economic fallout due to COVID-19, giving the much-needed breathing space to a number of countries, including Pakistan, he said.
He said the projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an important pilot project of the BRI, progressed steadily during the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that the projects also helped generate employments and were a great relief in the hardest of times.
During the pandemic, Pakistan and China have enhanced cooperation in the field of agriculture, science and technology and energy. Also, work on special economic zones under CPEC is in full swing to promote industrialization in Pakistan and boost national economy, he said.
The economist said that the BRI has been helping to bridge worldwide infrastructure investment gap. "The world is facing severe challenges to meet the investment for infrastructure development which can hinder economic growth worldwide … in the context, the BRI investments are helping countries to bridge that gap."
Ramay said that China has been trying to create new economic opportunities globally, adding that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement signed among its 15 participating countries including China, will provide solid economic growth to the world.
The expert believes that global economic recovery is not possible with the mentality of unilateralism or "ourselves first" approach as being adopted by some developed countries.
"Rich countries should assist poor countries in containing the pandemic by timely providing vaccine, pooling the resources and working on deeper integration, which will also be ultimately favorable for the developed world through the creation of a market for their products," Ramay said.
He said that COVID-19 vaccines should be declared as a global public good to fight against the common enemy, and China has been working determinedly in this direction.
"China has donated vaccines to many countries, and it is supplying vaccines at the concessional rates as it is the best instrument against the deadly virus … vaccinated people can come back to their jobs and play their part in economic prosperity," he said.
However, Ramay said that despite all the efforts, a few so-called rich Western countries are creating hurdles for China out of their hegemonic thinking and zero-sum Cold-War mentality.
"Instead of concentrating on the most pressing challenges like COVID-19 and world economy, they are bent to baseless criticism and focusing on how to contain China. These countries even dubbed the Chinese vaccine assistance to needy countries as vaccine diplomacy," he said.
Yet, ignoring all the negative propaganda, China is making every effort to turn the ongoing challenges into opportunities for everyone to forge a prosperous world on sustainable development principles, he added. Enditem