Senior Chinese and Pakistani officials in a meeting in Islamabad decided to accelerate and extend the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor towards Afghanistan, Indian media reported on Monday.
The meeting was held between China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi's and Pakistani officials in Islamabad this week, the report said.
Wang visited Pakistan from September 7 to 9 and held talks with Imran Khan’s cabinet members.
“Our bilateral cooperation to get off under the new circumstances,” said Geng Shuang, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, as quoted in a report by India’s The Economic Times.
He said China and Pakistan have agreed to extend the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) towards west to enable more people to benefit from it.
“The two sides will advance the CPEC in the light of Pakistan’s economic and social development and people's needs,” Geng said. “We will identify the pathways and cooperation for the CPEC. We will accelerate the industrial cooperation and the projects of the people’s livelihoods and extend the CPEC to the western area and make the people gets benefits from it.”
According to the report, India has India has protested over the economic corridor, a flagship project of China's Belt and Road Initiative as it traversed through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Wang in April announced plans to extend it towards Afghanistan during the first trilateral foreign ministers meeting held in India.
The CPEC was originally conceived to be a strategic link with highways, rail and pipeline links between China's Xinjiang and Pakistan's Gwadar port.
But several projects have been extended to different provinces following allegations that all the main projects are garnered by Pakistan's dominant Punjab province, the Economic Times reported.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in the past had accused the previous Pakistani government of depriving other provinces, specially Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on the western borders with Afghanistan.
“During the (Wang's) visit, we have reached consensus on advancing the CPEC... The key is to accelerate industrial cooperation and the projects related with people's livelihoods. To extend the CPEC to the western areas and make the people get benefits from these project,” Geng said.
During his visit to Pakistan, Wang said there were currently 22 cooperation projects in Pakistan within the framework of the CPEC of which nine have been completed and 13 are under construction.
The total investment of the projects was to the tune of $19 billion and they have created 70,000 new jobs, he was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Chinese officials said it is not the practice to announce any economic packages during China’sforeign minister's visit.
The new government of Pakistan said it will regard its ties with China as a cornerstone of its foreign policy.