Editor’s note: The annual sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top parliamentary body, and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China’s top advisory body, are on-going from March 3 to 16, which marks a pivotal year as the nation continues on to embark with its reforms and opening up policy, shifting towards a “New Normal” for economic growth rates, starting its 13th Five-Year Plan for social and economic development over the next five years and confronting challenges on the foreign policy front.
China Daily has invited Pakistani Ambassador to China Masood Khalid to express their views about China’s development.
[Q&A]Pakistani Ambassador to China Masood Khalid
Q1: Which reform/policy/issue of China has impressed you most over the past year? Why?
A: China’s progress has continued to impress the world. It has pulled more than 70 million people out of poverty, has become the second-largest economy in the world and an engine for global economy and growth. Last year was no exception.
Personally, I was particularly impressed by China’s robust foreign policy and its outreach to the rest of the world. China continued to play a constructive role for peace, stability and development in the world. Chinese leadership made extensive high profile visits promoting peace, development and win-win cooperation. President Xi’s visionary concept of One Belt One Road was also well received by many countries around the globe. China’s initiative to establish the AIIB was a major international development that was welcomed and supported by over 50 countries.
President Xi also paid a historic visit to Pakistan in April 2015. The visit saw the signing of record number of MoUs/Agreements in the fields of infrastructure, energy, social and cultural cooperation.
Q2: Which challenge/issue/problem do you think should be the first priority for the Chinese government in 2016?
A: The Chinese leadership is fully aware of the challenges and opportunities facing them in today’s world.
China’s 13th FYP is a reflection of this deep understanding, which paves the way forward for China’s economic and social development. The plan envisages “innovation, coordination, environment, opening up and greater market access” as the five key development areas, and reflects on the forward thinking approach of the Chinese nation. I am confident that China will march forward with confidence and determination, to achieve the goals outlined in the five-year plan.
Q3: What’s your expectation for the Chinese economy in 2016?
A: In this interconnected world, the Chinese economy will affect and be affected by the global economic developments. China is now experiencing what President Xi calls is “a new normal” as the Chinese economy transitions from low end manufacturing to an advanced industrial stage with production of high quality products, growing service industry and significant increase in domestic consumption.
There are many reasons to believe that Chinese economy will remain resilient in 2016. The reason for my optimism is the impressive blueprint that is being introduced in the 13th Five Year Plan. It presents concrete measures for a knowledge-based, technology- oriented market economy by fostering new engines of development and prioritizing S&T innovation, research and development. A coordinated development model as envisaged in this Plan would lead to overall development and prosperity across all regions of China.
In short, the five key development areas of “innovation, coordination, environment, opening up and greater market access” would bring about tremendous economic opportunities for China and help it move to its goal of building a moderately affluent society in a comprehensive manner by 2020.
Q4: What opportunities do you think the development of China in the coming five years will bring to your country/industry or the rest of the world?
A: China is the world’s second-largest economy, and has become a major engine for its growth. The world stands to benefit immensely from China’s growth.
As for Pakistan, the two countries made a historic agreement on building China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). As the southern node of China’s One Belt One Road, CPEC is a 2,700 km long stretch of rail, road and optic fiber links, which aims to connect China’s Xinjiang with Pakistan’s deep sea port of Gwadar. There are plans for energy and infrastructure development and establishment of industrial and special economic zones along the route. Once complete, the route will be a gateway for energy and trade supplies to and from China to the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
Within Pakistan, it will generate employment and business opportunities, rapid private sector activity, joint ventures and growth of industries, the effects of which are already visible. In this way, it will be a game-changer for the people of the whole region, by bringing shared prosperity, win-win cooperation and development prospects.
Q5: If you had a chance to talk with Premier Li Keqiang face-to-face, what would you want to ask him most?
A: Premier Li Keqiang is a great friend of Pakistan. Our leadership has met on many occasions in the past to exchange views or issues of mutual concern. On the occasion of the 4th meeting of the 12th Sessions of NPC and CPPCC, I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the entire Chinese leadership and reiterate the Pakistan government’s firm commitment to reinforce the already strong relationship between our two countries. We are committed to developing CPEC and other important projects to enhance mutual prosperity and development of our people.