OPINIONS Inspirational courage and vision

OPINIONS

Inspirational courage and vision

By MUHAMMAD ASIF NOOR | China Daily

20:28, June 30, 2020

MA XUEJING/CHINA DAILY

China's unique struggle to lift nearly 800 million people out of poverty is among a few remarkable marvels of the 21st century. China fought low income and a weak development level by carefully navigating its way to become the world's second-largest economy. With courageous and visionary leadership, coherence in policies, forceful approaches and efficient methods for identifying and overcoming challenges, China's poverty alleviation program has achieved tremendous results.

And China has not only strengthened its own industrial advancement but helped reduce 70 percent of the global poverty. Pakistan has been a beneficiary of China's efforts. China is Pakistan's strategic partner, a linchpin in its foreign policy and a companion in times of crisis.

Through its Belt and Road Initiative, China is offering new opportunities to Pakistan. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)-is a critical link in the initiative and one through which China is providing Pakistan with extensive support in establishing connectivity projects involving long-term advances.

Overall development with a focus on poverty alleviation has consistently been the focus of Pakistan's socio-economic drive for more than seven decades. However, these efforts have remained ineffectual despite the dedication to the cause. Various foreign and national development reports paint gloomy images of Pakistan's poverty level. For instance, according to the latest United Nations Development Programme Human Development Index, Pakistan ranks 150 among the 189 countries with a medium level of development.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, soon after he assumed office in 2018, vowed to work for the people and eradicate poverty by effectively utilizing the techniques experienced by China to support its populace. Apart from various government-led programs, the CPEC has entered into its second phase where along with its focus on connectivity, energy, agriculture and industrial development, one important component is socio-economic development and poverty alleviation.

Visionary and dynamic leadership and its blueprint of reforms and opening-up have been key factors in the success of China's economic prosperity drive. With President Xi Jinping taking the helm of state, China is pursuing the development goal of leaving no one behind. President Xi's resolve to eliminate poverty in the country and his visionary approach have been an inspiration for the Pakistani leadership. Launching the world's largest development project, the Belt and Road Initiative, President Xi has made China the spearhead of a global development drive for shared prosperity. The CPEC, as a key part of the initiative, is changing the entire landscape in a way that assists Pakistan's own poverty alleviation efforts.

Another important implication for Pakistan as a result of China's revolutionary development is that through the CPEC China has provided assistance to Pakistan in developing a strong network of railways, railroads, highways and communications projects that are helping Pakistan to build its capacity to support its marginalized communities. This has increased the linkages from farms and smaller industrial units to the national and regional levels. Pakistan through Gwadar Port is providing a new route for China's trade to reach the global markets. This provides Pakistan with an opportunity for its companies to effectively utilize these developed networks to reach and connect at both the regional and global level.

As a result of the grand change and significant shift and expansion in Chinese global trade, Pakistan is able to get access to all the latest development in research, knowledge and technology in diverse sectors. Be that in agriculture, water and resources management, e-commerce, industrial development and cooperation, strategic assets building and energy. At the same time, Pakistan is continuously seeking and receiving assistance from China in these fields.

For instance, Pakistan was facing its worst energy crisis in the years before the inception of the CPEC but now it is meeting the demand. Furthermore, China provided rapid response and support in the recent locust attacks in different regions of Pakistan, with innovative solutions to the emergency. Pakistan's e-commerce and businesses are creating linkages with leading e-commerce companies in China. This has created a remarkable shift with small businesses using these online platforms, helping people to build their lives.

Pakistan is an iron-clad friend for China but also a beneficiary of its economic revolution as a result of the China's continual reforms and sustainable policy related to socioeconomic development. Pakistan is also trying to inculcate its development experience by transforming the entire national ethos.

Connected to this, for any development process to be successful, there is a need for that blueprint to be homegrown and long term with full commitment. What is also important for Pakistan is that China's development model has Chinese characteristics and the country has adjusted it as circumstances have demanded. China's leaders have not remained chained to one way of thinking but have embraced new ideas to advance the country's development. Pakistan needs to learn these important lessons from China and adhere to the policy of commitment and consistence with an indigenous model based on its local realities with a pragmatic outlook that best fits its needs. Development has to be a long-term, committed process.

Pakistan is also trying to eradicate corruption from all levels of the society and especially in the process of implementing development projects. Pakistan is also putting emphasis on modernizing the civil service and providing ample support for the work of public servants including promotions to higher levels as a result of the efficient and honest work.

Looking at China's development experience, it is clear that success lies in the hands of those who are committed to the well-being of the people. Now, China is on the cusp of achieving its goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, ensuring its people can share the fruits of development.

The author is the director of Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies. The author contributed this article to China Watch, a think tank powered by China Daily. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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