China, Pakistan to enhance defense ties, expedite CPEC projects

Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fanghe visited Pakistan on Monday and met with Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa

Dec 02, 2020
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Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fanghe visited Pakistan on Monday and met with Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. The two nations have signed a memorandum of understanding for “enhancing defense cooperation between the two countries' armies,” reported The Express Tribune. 

According to the press release by Pakistan Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), both leaders discussed matters of mutual interest, regional security, and enhanced bilateral defense cooperation.

The release also said Wei acknowledged and appreciated the efforts undertaken by Pakistan to ensure regional security and a secure environment for Pakistan China Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.

Acknowledging its valued relationship with China, the Pakistan army chief thanked the Chinese defense minister for the unwavering support that China has provided to Pakistan at all key issues at regional and international forums. 

On the same day, China and Pakistan held the fifth meeting of the Joint Working Groups (JSG)-responsible for monitoring progress and coordination in CPEC projects through the video link. 

Pakistan’s planning secretary Mathar Niaz Rana and China’s National Development and Reforms Commission Director-General Ying Xiong co-chaired the meeting where progress on Gwadar Port, road and rail infrastructure, provision of water and health facilities were discussed. 

In the meeting, it was decided to expedite all the CPEC projects like New Gwadar International Airport, a five million gallon water desalination plant, Gwadar port’s berth and breakwater projects, Eastway Expressway project, a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant, China-Pakistan Friendship Hospital and School. 

Nearly all the projects were lagging behind the schedule, a government official who attended the meeting confided to The Express Tribune. 

The reports say the Chinese side raised the concern about the lack of access to telecommunication services in the Gwadar region which is not only delaying the working but also creating security problems in the areas.  Pakistan is yet to install a mobile tower in the Gwadar region for connectivity purposes. 

The CPEC connectivity route passes through Balochistan, a restive Pakistan province. The Baloch rebels have mounted several attacks on CPEC projects and those incidents resulted in increased security have increased the costs of the CPEC, the paper said.  

Before Pakistan, Wei undertook a one-day visit to Nepal. 

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