BEIJING - Pakistan-China decades’ old strategic partnership has entered into a new phase with launching of economic corridor project and construction of Silk road.

Top leadership have decided to bring the two countries more closer to each other through their regular economic interaction. China will be playing pivotal role the socio-economic development of Pakistan through the corridor project in the coming years.

During the meetings held at various levels this year, focus was on economic diplomacy, as both sides deliberated as how best China-Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC) could be implemented. Seminars and conference were held recently in various parts of China to discuss President’s Xi’s vision of ‘one road one belt’, with special reference to CPEC.

A high-profile seminar was held at Karamay in China’s western region to highlight the turn-over in Sino-Pak relationship.

As follow-up, a media seminar was arranged in Urumqi to discuss construction of Silk road passing through Gwadar. A senior official of China’ State Council Information Department said the government and the people of China hold Pakistan in high-esteem and wishes to provide strong support for its socio-economic development under the CPEC. Addressing a reception, he hosted here in hour of the visiting journalists, he said they consider Pakistan their iron-brother.

A member of Chinese thank-tank Tao Ji said, since, Pakistan is their most-trusted friend and geographically well located, the Chinese government marked Pakistan an entry point implementing his dream ‘One belt one road. CEPC is located where the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road meet. It is, therefore, a major project of the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative,” he said while commenting on China’s future connectivity plan.

China has formed a ‘1+4’ cooperation structure with the Economic Corridor at the center, and Gwadar Port, energy, infrastructure and industrial cooperation being the four key areas to drive development across Pakistan and deliver tangible benefits to its people.

Observers said the huge corridor project would be a hub of the “Belt and Road” initiative, a transcontinental network prioritizing connectivity and infrastructure, and would vitalize Pakistan’s development and western China’s opening-up.

Another Chinese scholar Prof. Tang Mengsheng said the CPEC project is “a watershed” and “a game-changer” not just for Pakistan and China but for their immediate and extended neighborhoods. It is project of ‘win-win’ situation for all the regional countries. We wish China being economic supper power should be a source of peace and development in whole of the world. Chinese top leadership attached high priority to the benefit of Pakistani people, while pushing forward its connectivity plan ‘one belt one road’.

Manli Cheng, Dean National Institute of strategic studies, Beijing says China considered Gwadar port, a “key for the economic hub. It should have all the necessary infrastructure to handle the shipment of merchandise and services”.

Lu Shulin, former Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, said the Gwadar port, about 400 kilometers from the Strait of Hormuz, could improve Pakistan’s role in the region, and could give access to the sea for neighboring landlocked countries like Afghanistan.

If the port linked western China with rail, it would reduce export costs from China’s far-western region, which is remote from ports on China’s northern and eastern coastal areas, said Lu, adding it will also diversify shipping lanes for energy exported from the Middle East to China.

The economic corridor would shorten the route for China’s energy imports, bypassing the Strait of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia, a foreign news agency reported.

Observers believe that the CPEC is the first project of China’s long-term plan of one Belt and Road. Dollar 46 billion allocated for CPEC is the part of Silk Road Fund. The investment under CPECwill play a key role in supporting the implementation of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative.CPECis a planned network of roads, railways and energy projects linking southwest Pakistan’s deepwater Gwadar Port with northwest China’sXinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.