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With the smooth implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, the people of Pakistan are gaining tangible benefits.
Residents of Pakistan's southwestern port city of Gwadar will enjoy better emergency medical treatment thanks to the opening of a hospital donated by China earlier this month.
The hospital, which opened Sunday, was donated by the Red-Cross Society of China and is the first of its kind along the CPEC, a route connecting Gwadar and the city of Kashgar in western China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Construction of more similar hospitals designed to provide basic diagnosis, small surgeries and emergency rescues will follow suit.
Adjacent to the newly built hospital is Faqeer Primary School where over 300 pupils sit in new classrooms with freshly painted desks. Opened in September 2016, the school was the first China-donated project aimed at improving the livelihood of people along the CPEC.
Sher Mohammad gave a piece of his own land to the local government for the school's construction. The 60-year-old said that although land prices in Gwadar are surging after China helped develop the port, he never regretted his donation.
"I'm happy about my decision because I had the chance to give this piece of land to local kids for their future," he said.
Another training school will also be built within the next couple of years in Gwadar to help young people master a skill so that they have a means to earn a life in the future.
Meanwhile, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), which has a branch in central Pakistan's historical city of Multan, is also engaged in projects that direct have an impact on the lives of the locals.
The company is now building the Sukker-Multan section of the Peshawar-Karachi Expressway, a 392-km road with a total investment of 2.89 billion U.S. dollars that involves some 10,000 Pakistani as well as 1,500 Chinese engineers and laborers working around the clock on the site.
Once completed, the project will shorten the eight-hour travel time between Sukker and Multan by half.
You Xunming, vice general manager of the project, said his company has a responsibility to maintain the friendship between Pakistan and China.
Even vendors along the expressway welcomed the project, saying it has boosted demand for their goods, such as cigarettes, bottled water and fresh juice. They expect sales to only increase in the future.
Energy is a major pillar of CPEC projects. According to Sun Weidong, Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, 11 of the 19 CPEC early harvest projects fall into the energy category to address Pakistan's chronic power shortages. They include coal-fired plants, hydropower facilities, wind and solar power farms.
For example, the first phase of a solar power plant constructed in Bahawalpur, Punjab Province by China's energy conglomerate Zonergy in 2016 will meet 30 percent of the region's power demands.
Yet the 300-megawatt plant with an annual capacity of 495 million kilowatt-hour of electricity is relatively small compared to the three coal-fired plants planned in Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan provinces. Gradually coming into service, the plants, each with a capacity of 1,320 megawatts, will provide electricity for some 4 million households.
Sun told Pakistani officials and scholars last week that China will not dump outdated industrial capacity into Pakistan, nor will the CPEC add any financial burden to the local population.
The CPEC projects will cover all provinces and regions of Pakistan and will hire over 60,000 Pakistani workers, Sun added, citing preliminary statistics.
More than economic
For countries along the CPEC, the corridor is not only about economic gains, but also about cross-cultural and people-to-people contact, which could involve the likes of Iran, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries.
"It is not only an economic issue. It is also cultural because cultural means people to people," said Mushahid Hussain Sayed, a senator who heads the CPEC Pakistani Parliamentary Committee.
Mushahid said in an interview with Xinhua that the CPEC serves as an alternative for war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Lybia with its vision of inclusive development.
Talking about the upcoming Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, which he will attend, Mushahid said Pakistan wants the forum to know of the Corridor's success.
"We want to convey the success story to other countries," Mushahid said, "how we have done it, how we are doing it together with our Chinese friends, and how it is important not just for China and Pakistan, but for the region as well."
(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)