Islamabad: A high-ranking Chinese official on Friday called security the foremost challenge threatening the future of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and stressed for an urgent need for boosting security protocols and a more supportive business and media environment to ensure the continuation and success of the project, Pakistan-based Dawn reported.

The Minister of the Central Committee of the International Department of the Communist Party of China, Liu Jianchao, made the remarks at the third meeting of the Pakistan-China Joint Consultative Mechanism. Representatives from all major Pakistani political parties attended the meeting.

He said, "Security threats are the main hazards to CPEC cooperation. As people often say, confidence is more precious than gold. In the case of Pakistan, the primary factor shaking the confidence of Chinese investors is the security situation," Dawn reported.

The Joint Consultative Mechanism (JCM) forum, initiated in 2019, held in-person meeting after five years. The JCM forum also held a virtual session in August 2020.

In recent years, terrorists have targeted Chinese projects in Pakistan, including CPEC. In March, two attacks highlighted the threats.

The banned outfit in Pakistan, the Baloch Liberation Army, tried to breach the Gwadar Port Authority complex. However, the assault was foiled, Dawn reported. Furthermore, a suicide bomber in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Shangla district hit a convoy of Chinese engineers, claiming the lives of five engineers and their local drivers.

These incidents are part of a series of targeted violent incidents intended to disrupt CPEC. This threat has significantly affected the continuity of the project, contributing to the slowdown of CPEC's progress in recent years.

The Chinese official praised the recent successes of Pakistani law enforcement agencies in tackling terrorism and stressed that these efforts have helped mitigate the challenge posed by terrorist groups who have "so badly sabotaged" the security environment and targeted Chinese interests.

Liu Jianchao called for improving the business environment in the country. Pakistan has difficulty attracting Chinese investments due to its precarious financial situation and a history of unmet commitments to Chinese firms in the power sector.

The reluctance among Chinese investors is enhanced by the reluctance of Chinese influence company Sinosure to cover new projects, causing a significant slowdown in the initiation of these endeavours. In addition, the development of Special Economic Zones, a vital component of CPEC, has remained stagnant.

Liu called for a unified political front to have broad public consensus and support for CPEC. He highlighted the importance of tackling misinformation campaigns.

He said, "We must take that seriously and create a CPEC-friendly media environment." Stressing the need for stability in Pakistan, he said, "Only when all political parties in a country join hands to ensure political and social stability can there be sustainable development."

In his remarks, Pakistan's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Ishaq Dar, expressed Pakistan's commitment to advancing and upgrading CPEC in its second phase.

Dar highlighted the presence of senior representatives from all major Pakistani political parties at the meeting and stated that it underscored a strong political consensus on CPEC. He spoke about the importance of relations between Pakistan and China for regional peace and development.

Pakistan Senate Chairman Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani stressed the need for prioritizing inclusive and sustainable growth and ensuring that no region is left behind, Dawn reported.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Barrister Ali Zafar expressed concerns regarding the slow progress of CPEC and called for an acceleration in the project's development. He later held a meeting with Pakistan's Army Chief General, Asim Munir, in Rawalpindi.

Earlier in March, Khurshid Ahmed, the Information Secretary of the Baloch Human Rights Council, highlighted the negative implications of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Pakistan's province of Balochistan.

Amid increased violent attacks on Chinese projects in Balochistan, Khurshid stated the reason why these projects are facing backlash in Balochistan.

"The repeated attacks on China Pakistan projects by the oppressed native populations underscore the narrative that so-called developmental projects initiated by the oppressor primarily serve their own interest while offering little to no benefit to the oppressed nation," said Khurshid.

This report is auto-generated from a syndicated feed