Pakistan warmly welcomes Chinese vice-premier ahead of 10-year CPEC celebrations 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday welcomed Chinese Vice-Premier He Lifeng on his three-day visit along with a delegation to the Pakistani capital Islamabad to mark 10 years of the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a significant infrastructure development and regional connectivity project, was launched by the two countries to build a major trade route between the Gwadar Port in southwest Pakistan and China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang, as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

While the two sides agreed to work on the multibillion-dollar CPEC projects in April 2015, they became central to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which was first mentioned by President Xi Jinping during a visit to Kazakhstan in September 2013. The BRI aims to recreate the ancient Silk Route, though on a much larger level, to connect China with a number of countries in its immediate neighborhood and extend to various areas in Europe and Africa.

Sharif greeted the Chinese vice-premier upon his arrival at the former’s office in Islamabad, where the Pakistan prime minister introduced Vice-Premier He to his cabinet members.

“It is my pleasure to warmly welcome the Chinese Vice-Premier H.E. He Lifeng and members of his delegation to Pakistan,” Sharif said on Twitter. “They are visiting Pakistan to join us in celebrating the 10th anniversary of CPEC and witnessing first-hand the transformations brought about by this game-changing initiative.”

Vice-Premier He played a prominent role in China’s international economic relations and implementation of the BRI, which CPEC is a flagship project of, according to the Pakistani foreign office.

The Chinese delegation would spend a busy day today in the Pakistani capital, with Vice-Premier He and PM Sharif scheduled to hold one-on-one and delegation-level talks.

“The two sides will also sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to further strengthen bilateral relations,” the Pakistani information ministry said in a statement.

The Chinese leader would also receive a special medal in an investiture ceremony at the presidency, where the visiting delegates would meet President Arif Alvi.

In the afternoon, the delegation would attend a ceremony, themed as the ‘Decade of CPEC,’ with the Chinese vice-premier as the chief guest.

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