CPEC moves to second phase of high-level development, with focus on capacity, tech cooperation: Experts.

BEIJING -- As President Xi Jinping met with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif to further consolidate the bilateral ironclad friendship, the two countries will set in motion a flurry of projects of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), including the construction of auxiliary infrastructure for Gwadar Port and a high-speed rail project connecting Pakistan's largest city of Karachi to Peshawar.

Business representatives and industry observers said the economic cooperation highlights yielded by the visit underscore that the construction of CEPC has been upgraded from phase one, which focuses on addressing fundamental issues involving power shortages and infrastructure connectivity, to phase two which aims to facilitate capacity cooperation, stimulate indigenous economic drives and speed up the South Asian country's push to modernize.

The Pakistani side has also vowed to step up security measures, further providing a guarantee to the safety of Chinese personnel and China-invested projects - a pledge entrusted by Chinese business representatives which will pave way for the efficient implementation of flagship projects in CPEC's second phase.

The fruitful results achieved by the visit also speak volumes of the all-weather friendship and mutually beneficial economic ties between China and Pakistan, which could not be swayed by the empty promises made by the US that neither invested extensively in Pakistan nor reduced barriers for Pakistan exports, analysts noted.

Flagship cooperation

According to a joint statement issued after the bilateral meeting, the two sides agreed to build upon the leadership consensus and to advance the process of the ML-1 project's earliest implementation. The two sides also agreed to actively advance the Karachi Circular Railway, which was an urgent requirement for Pakistan's biggest city.

"The ML-1 linking Karachi with Peshawar is a railway corridor connecting Pakistan's southern region with the north. With a length of about 1,730 kilometers, it will attract close to $10 billion in investment. Chinese enterprises have done a lot of preliminary studies and work on the project, laying a solid foundation for its efficient implementation," Xiao Hua, the chairman of state-owned China State Construction's Pakistani company, told the Global Times.

Xiao noted the project, along with the Karachi Circular Railway, is of key "strategic and...

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