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CPEC Media Forum unites to counter disinformation for CPEC’s revitalization

Islamabad, 20 December, 2023 (GNP): Pakistan-China Institute, in collaboration with China Economic Net and Embassy of People’s Republic of China, organised 8th CPEC Media Forum in Islamabad. The forum was also virtually telecast in Beijing and University of Gwadar.

The forum featured insightful speeches by Murtaza Solangi, Caretaker Minister of Information and Broadcasting; Zhang Zaidong, Ambassador of People’s Republic of China to Pakistan; Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman Senate Committee on Defence & Pakistan-China Institute; Zheng Qingdong, President and Editor in chief of Economic Daily; Cui Jun, President of China Economic Net; Wu Xu, Executive Secretary of China Journalists Association; Ambassador Khalil Hashmi, Ambassador of Pakistan to China; Hamid Mir, Senior Journalist; Shiffa Yusufzai, Anchor at 92 NewsHD.

In his inaugural address, Mustafa Hyder Sayed, Executive Director of the Pakistan-China Institute (PCI), underscored the enduring consistency of the CPEC Media Forum since its initiation in 2015 as an annual gathering alternating between China and Pakistan.

Emphasizing that the scope of CPEC Cooperation extends beyond ‘brick and mortar’ infrastructure projects to encompass people-to-people connectivity, he asserted that the people of China and Pakistan serve as the true custodians of this profound friendship.

Furthermore, he regarded President Xi Jinping’s announcement of a $100 billion investment in the green development of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) countries as historic.

Cui Jun, President China Economic Net read the congratulatory communication from Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, Sun Weidong, pertaining to the eighth China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Media Forum.

In the conveyed message, Vice Minister Sun Weidong expressed sincere felicitations to the participants for the successful execution of the forum.

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Emphasizing the enduring nature of the bilateral relationship, he underscored that Pakistan and China stand as all-weather strategic partners, and the successful conclusion of a decade of CPEC serves as a testament to the profound friendship between the two nations.

Vice Minister Sun Weidong highlighted significant progress achieved during the 3rd Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing in October.

In his keynote speech, Murtaza Solangi, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, emphasized the transformative impact of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during the auspicious year of 2023.

He appreciated the vital role of the media in shaping public perceptions of CPEC, urging objective reporting to counter propaganda and ensure accurate dissemination of information. Solangi highlighted CPEC’s role in addressing Pakistan’s socio economic challenges, generating jobs, and significantly contributing to economic growth.

He emphasized the need for accurate journalism to counter the fake news and called for unity in recognizing CPEC as a ‘transformative force that has reshaped the nation and provided hope for a brighter, more prosperous Pakistan’.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Defence and the Pakistan-China Institute characterized the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) as the paramount developmental and diplomatic initiative of the 21st century.

Drawing attention to the substantial investment made by China, exceeding $1 trillion, across 3000 BRI projects globally, which has positively impacted over 40 million people by liftingthem from poverty, Senator Mushahid expressed optimism by asserting that the ‘best of CPEC is yet to come as CPEC is back on track now’ with focus Gwadar Port development, ML1 Railway project, revival of Special Economic Zones and major developments on Agriculture.

Notably, Senator Sayed drew an interesting comparison between the narratives & approaches of China and the United States, highlighting China’s commitment to modernization in contrast to the U.S.’s emphasis on militarization, marked by an expenditure of over $6.5 trillion in the so-called war on terror.

Emphasizing China’s redirection of funds toward green development with a monumental $100 billion investment, he juxtaposed this with the U.S administration seeking military aid, totaling $104 billion for wars in Ukraine and Occupied Palestine.

Senator Sayed underscored China’s pursuit of building bridges compared to the U.S.’s construction of barriers, affirming that China is aligned on the right side of history with a geo-economic vision of connectivity via commerce and culture. Both China and Pakistan stand fully with each other in solidarity with each other’s core interests, he added.

Jiang Zaidong, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Pakistan, expressed his appreciation for the forum as a preeminent platform dedicated to promoting media cooperation & dispelling misinformation concerning the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He said ‘some forces deliberately spread disinformation on BRI & CPEC’.

Ambassador Jiang Zaidong highlighted the consistent progress of China’s economy and its notable advancements in innovation. He reiterated China’s commitment to supporting Pakistan in safeguarding its core interests.

Furthermore, Ambassador Zaidong conveyed his personal visit to Gwadar, where he inaugurated a desalination plant aimed at benefiting the local population.

Additionally, he announced the forthcoming provision of 10,000 solar units to Gwadar, contributing to sustainable development in the region.

Khalil Hashmi, Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, reiterated Pakistan’s steadfast commitment to the high-quality development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during his address.

He emphasized Pakistan’s readiness to strengthen cooperation with China and highlighted the enduring diplomatic and economic ties, focusing on people-to-people connectivity.

During his address, Senior Journalist Hamid Mir emphasised the imperative requirement for proactive involvement from both China and Pakistan in the region of Balochistan, asserting that the destiny of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is intricately linked to the developments in Balochistan.

Additionally, he advocated for the actualization of the complete potential of CPEC, a consensus reached a decade ago, underscoring the significance of timely and comprehensive implementation.

He said bureaucratic red tape and instability in Balochistan were hurdles in success of CPEC and steps should be taken so that people of Balochistan take ownership of CPEC.

Zheng Qingdong, President and Editor-in-chief of Economic Daily, highlighted the significance of the tenth anniversary of the “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor” initiation, emphasising its role in strengthening the enduring friendship between the two nations. Acknowledging the challenges of the global landscape, he urged joint efforts to embrace development opportunities and promote unity.

Wu Xu, Executive Secretary of the China Journalists Association, emphasised that the ten-year collaboration between China and Pakistan in safeguarding the corridor has yielded remarkable results in infrastructure, energy, agriculture, and more. Looking ahead, she highlighted the need for media cooperation to counter false narratives and create positivity through facts.

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Yu Xiaokui, Deputy Director, International Department, Guangming Daily, expressed optimism highlighting the corridor’s decade-long success and its crucial role in strengthening China-Pakistan friendship.

Emphasizing the media’s role in dispelling misconceptions, Yu proposed strategies: sharing authentic corridor stories, enhancing media cooperation, and adapting to new trends. Confident in the collective ability to narrate success, Yu concluded by fostering stronger ties between the two nations.

Du Jianing, Director of China Media Group Islamabad Studio, urged collaboration to combat misinformation around the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and contribute to its quality development.

He emphasized media cooperation, transparency, and accurate information dissemination, particularly through social media, to enhance credibility and influence. Jianing called for intensified efforts among media professionals from both countries to ensure the success of CPEC.

Mustafa Hyder Sayed launched a new ‘CPEC Media Forum Balochistan Initiative’ and presented a joint statement of the forum.

The joint statement expressed gratitude for the decade-long collaborative efforts in advancing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), highlighting achievements in energy, infrastructure, and socioeconomic development, especially inculcating hope, confidence and faith in the future among Pakistanis.

The forum underscored the importance of combating misinformation, sustaining cooperation, and leveraging technology, emphasizing inclusive and transparent development for societal benefit.

Muhammad Umar Farooq, Research Associate at the Pakistan-China Institute, delivered a comprehensive presentation elucidating the historical trajectory of misinformation pertaining to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) over the past decade.

Farooq systematically refuted the disseminated false narratives by substantiating his arguments with factual evidence, thereby contributing to the scholarly discourse on the subject matter.

During the forum, Senator Mushahid Hussain formally unveiled the report titled “Perception of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in Pakistan” which demonstrated that 93.5% of Pakistanis had a positive view of CPEC. The report encapsulates factual information pertaining to the perspectives of the Pakistani populace concerning CPEC.

During the forum, 8 prominent journalists were also awarded ‘5th CPEC Communication Award’. They included Imran Khalid, freelance journalist; Nasir Jamal, Bureau Chief of Dawn Newspaper; Yasir Habib Khan, freelance journalist; Usman Mujib Shami, Executive Director of Daily Pakistan; Zia ul Amin, Journalist at APP Urdu; Tanveer Hashmi, Senior Report Daily Jang, Muhammad Zamir Assadi, Editor INP; and Fawad Yusufzai, Journalist at The Nation.

Around 200+ participants consisting of students from University of Gwadar, media, civil society, parliament, and academia participated in the forum. The forum also featured an insightful Questions & Answers session.