The 2020 Beijing International Forum on People-to-people Friendship that was held online stated that the Sino-Pak cooperative partnership is getting stronger with a passage of time under CPEC.
The forum was co-sponsored by Beijing People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (BPAFFC) and Beijing NGO Network for International Exchanges (Beijing NGO) under the guidance of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC).
The forum attracted more than 200 participants, including representatives of 58 friendship organizations from 30 countries. The event was centered on the theme of people-to-people friendly cooperation under BRI. Ikhlaque Usmani, the president of All Pakistan-China Friendship Association (APCFA) and Farwa Zafar, the secretary-general of APCFA, attended this conference on behalf of people-to people friendship organizations in Pakistan.
Usmani in his speech said, Pakistan and China enjoy a very special relationship that are evergrowing. In this May, they marked the 69th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations with China. The two countries have witnessed how the friendship has grown since 1950.
He also mentioned that CPEC has significantly benefited Pakistan. He said: "In Pakistan, the BRI's signature project of CPEC, over past five years has progressed smoothly and has been a drivering force of Pakistan's economic growth by one to two percentage points every year and created 70,000 jobs in Pakistan."
In the town of Gwadar, the port and Free Zone have already become operational, creating opportunities for employment, investment and commerce. Pakistani women working under CPEC projects can access better health care facilities and education, and enjoy better professional working environment in Chinese companies.
Socially, CPEC is aimed at mobilizing the people to work together for the betterment of our two nations, he added. Usmani believes that people-to-people friendship organizations are an important part of a country's soft power and voice in the world. In this role they can be crucial players for the BRI. And young people are the mainstay of friendship between our people. BRI can bolster youth forums and youth camps, facilitated by friendship organizations.
Further youth exchanges in education, art, media, cultural heritage, science and technology can be realized through more opportunities and financial support by friendship organizations across China and related institutions, he added.
Regarding the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), he stated that friendship associations are of great significance in fighting against the virus through measures. He further said, we can put our focus on activating of a Healthy Silk Road through battling against the COVID-19 together.
The BRI corridors, ports and logistics hubs are now being used to provide medical support to partner countries and the friendship organizations with their people-to-people outreach can facilitate this activity, Usmani suggested.