Pakistan announces 'next phase' in mega-deal with China

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Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday announced "the next phase" of a multibillion-dollar economic cooperation project with China which he said will focus on eliminating poverty in his country.

"Together, Pakistan and China are entering the next phase of CPEC, with greater emphasis on socioeconomic uplift, poverty alleviation, agricultural cooperation, and industrial development," Khan said.

CPEC refers to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, part of China's "Belt and Road" initiative, also known as the One Belt One Road, an ambitious project to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks to increase trade and stimulate economic growth.

"Pakistan is proud to have partnered and pioneered with China in this transformational endeavor. We are expanding the frontiers of knowledge through deeper cooperation in the fields of education, innovation, and technology. Under CPEC, special economic zones will be set up [across Pakistan]," he told the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.

The $64 billion mega-project signed in 2014 aims to connect China's strategically important northwestern Xinxiang province to Gawadar port through a network of roads, railways, and pipelines to transport cargo, oil, and gas.

The economic corridor will not only provide China cheaper access to Africa and the Middle East but will also earn Pakistan billions of dollars for providing transit facilities to the world's second-largest economy.

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