Exclusive Interview with Pakistan's New Ambassador to China: Let Chinese Know the Real "Made in Pakistan"
By Meng Lingjuan
The newly-appointed Pakistani Ambassador to China Moin ul Haque accepts an exclusive interview with Economic Daily - China Economic Net on September 4. (Economic Daily - China Economic Net/Zhang Peng)
"Pakistan and China have very special ties. It's a relationship between two friends, between two partners, between two brothers. No wonder that we call each other Iron Brothers," the newly-appointed Pakistani Ambassador to China Moin ul Haque started like this when he accepted an exclusive interview with Economic Daily-China Economic Net (CEN) on the afternoon of September 4.
During a special period and in a special way, Haque began his new position in China. After a 4-year tenure of Pakistan's Ambassador to France, Haque left from Paris and arrived in Beijing on the night of July 30, and then self-quarantined for 14 days. "It's a great honor for me to be appointed Pakistani Ambassador to China. It will be my sincere endeavor with my wonderful team that I have at the embassy to contribute to this very important partnership and take it into the New Era," Haque told CEN reporter in the drawing room of Pakistani Embassy in China.
Appreciate China’s initiative, vaccine is a public good
Talking about his experience in the first month of his new duty, Haque first mentioned the second strategic dialogue between China and Pakistan which was held in August in south China's Hainan Province. "It was a very, very important meeting after the visit of President of Pakistan to China in March. While thanking China for its very valuable support to us during the pandemic, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi appreciated the announcement made by Chinese President Xi Jinping that whenever a vaccine is developed, it would be considered a public good. And it should be accessible to all countries, especially the developing countries," Haque said.
ML-1 railway a multiplier effect for the Phase II of CPEC
Haque, who was still in quarantine in early August, posted two tweets in succession about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, namely the Diamer-Bhasha Dam and Main Line-1 (ML-1) project of Pakistan Railways. According to Pakistani media, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the construction of the dam was the dream of the Pakistani people for more than 40 years when attending the commencement ceremony of Diamer-Bhasha Dam.
"The spectrum of Pakistan-China relationship is very broad and very deep. We cooperate in all areas from defense to security, from trade to investment, culture, education, science and technology, agriculture, and tourism. CPEC is a very important element of our relationship. It's a flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative. And one of our focuses will be to see that all projects, the ongoing projects and those of which have been conceived in the early harvest and the first phase are completed on time. The industrial development cooperation of the phase two is also in sync with the social economic development agenda of our current government. So these will be very important areas that I'll be working on during my term," Haque said.
Diamer-Bhasha Dam is also, as you mentioned, as part of the Prime Minister's vision, to provide a clean and an affordable energy to our country. And we are very grateful to Chinese companies for taking a lead in the construction of this dam, Haque told the reporter.
"ML-1 is the largest project on the CPEC. It is a very important project for both Pakistan and China. It will help to provide very economical and efficient inland travel in Pakistan. I think it will also be very important as a multiplier effect for the phase II of CPEC."
The newly-appointed Pakistani Ambassador to China Moin ul Haque accepts an exclusive interview with Economic Daily - China Economic Net reporter at the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing on September 4. (Economic Daily - China Economic Net/Zhang Peng)
Invite Chinese friends to take advantage of the dividend of SEZ
The tariff reduction arrangements for the Phase-II of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement was officially implemented on January 1 this year. Talking about China-Pakistan trade relations during COVID-19 pandemic, Haque pointed out: "First of all, we are very happy that China has posted a very positive and more than 3% growth in the second quarter. Despite the pandemic, the first quarter of this year we saw our bilateral trade increase. In this second quarter, there was a little dip because of the disruption of the international travel. The updated FTA is very important. Over 300 items are now enjoying duty free access to each other countries, including fisheries and pharmaceuticals. So there are many opportunities for the traders of the two countries to work in this area. We hope that in the months and years to come, our trade will increase from our previous figures."
Pakistan has been committed to building industrial clusters in recent years to improve its ability to undertake the relocation of Chinese industries. Chinese companies have also been paying continuous attention to the implementation of preferential policies in Pakistan's special economic zones. In this regard, Haque said: "We have learned a lot from the Chinese experience of developing special economic zones. Under CPEC, we have identified nine special economic zones across Pakistan and three of them are now in advanced stage of preparation. So through this, I take this opportunity to invite my Chinese friends and businessmen to come and take advantage of these special economic zones in Pakistan. We are going to share all the details very soon."
Many Pakistani fashion products very popular in the world
After fully expressing the necessity of agricultural modernization, Haque introduced Pakistan's industry and service industry. "Like China and many other countries, our work and life were also affected by the COVID-19. There were new ideas, new concepts and new products. In Pakistan, we started making our own masks, testing kits and ventilators. It can be part of the health corridor that we are talking about, and we support the China-proposed initiative to create a health corridor. The pharmaceutical industry in Pakistan is very strong, and our surgical goods are one of the best in the world. Besides vaccines, we can produce other medicines and health equipment to promote cooperation."
"Another area which I would like to mention is automobile industry. China and Pakistan are working together to make new brand automobiles. Many Pakistani fashion products are very popular in the world. Our IT applications are very popular. A company like NetSol has a sizable business in China. Pakistan is the 3rd or 4th largest country in milk production. We are making new investments in value-added products such as cheese, butter, yogurt and others. We hope that more Chinese investors can come to Pakistan in this field." Haque added.
Learning curve for Pakistani businessmen and economic diplomacy
According to Haque's Twitter account information, he used to work in Belgium, Canada, France, Sri Lanka, Turkey and the United States before he assumed the charge of new Ambassador of Pakistan to China. While answering various economic questions raised by the reporter, Haque shared his views on the learning curve and economic diplomacy.
"Slowly and steadily, Pakistani enterprises are reaching to the stage that they can brand and market the products. Our pharmaceutical company, Martin Dow, set up two manufacturing plants in France. In a country like France, it's very important for Pakistani companies to go internationally, and promote Pakistani products and brands. We are learning also, it is a learning curve for Pakistani businessmen," Haque said.