11:51 GMT05 March 2021
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    China continues to invest in building close economic and trade cooperation with its Asian neighbors. In addition, Beijing is seeking to take control over infrastructure centers of the Asian economy, in a bid to become the regional economic leader.

    Pakistan thanked China for contributing to strengthening its national energy security. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took part in a ceremony to launch the third block of the Chashma Nuclear Power Plant in Punjab.

    The facility was built with technological and financial assistance from China, according to the Pakistani newspaper Hindustan Times.

    One of the priorities of the Pakistani government is to end daily countrywide power cuts and to provide electricity supplies to each household, the prime minister said.

    The Pakistani government hopes to resolve the problem with the Chashma NPP by 2018.

    According to Sharif, the facility is a "concrete and outstanding example of constructive cooperation between China and Pakistan.

    The 340-megawatt energy block completed tests in early-October and was connected to the country’s energy grid on October 15. The NPP has four energy blocks, three of which are already operational. Sharif said that the fourth block will be launched with assistance from China in April 2017.

    Experts say that the Chashma NPP can be compared with another major economic initiative, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which is expected to be a transport, energy and trade bridge connecting northwest China to the Indian Ocean. Recently it was reported that China will invest $55 billion in the project, against the initial $46 billion.

    Acquisition by a Chinese consortium of a major stake in the Pakistani stock exchange will also add to the financial and investing presence of Chinese companies in the Pakistani market. The deal is estimated at $85 million. Among the participants are the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges.

    The Pakistani exchange was one of the best performers in the Asian stock market in 2016. The KSE 100 index, which shows performance of 100 major companies of Pakistan, rose over 40 percent this year. The deal between the Chinese exchanges and the Pakistani stock exchange is a breakthrough for Chinese companies in the Asian stock market.

    "This is an important indicator showing presence of Chinese capitals in global markets. Moreover, the situation in the Pakistani stock exchange is more stable than in the Chinese market. It is one of the most stable exchanges in Asia. This is why the Chinese consortium decided to buy a stake there," Wang Zhiming, director at the Center for Globalization and Development of China, told Sputnik Chinese.

    Political ties between Pakistan and China have long been stable. Pakistan is also part of the Chinese government’s New Silk Road infrastructure project.

    "The Pakistani stock exchange is important both for Chinese companies and the Pakistani economy. The Silk Road means political contacts, infrastructure communications, trade without borders and exchange of capitals. Capitals need trade platforms and this is why China is interested in the Pakistani exchange," Wang Zhiming explained.

    China’s involvement in an NPP in Pakistan, the China-Pakistan economic corridor and the deal with the Pakistani exchange are examples of Beijing taking control over key centers of the Asian economy, according to Mikhail Belyaev, an expert at the Stock Market and Management Institute.

    "This is an apparent trend, and China does not want to hide that. China is seeking to be the global leader, but especially the leader in the region. This is a pragmatic approach. Beijing begins with its neighboring countries where it is easier to establish control," Belyaev told Sputnik Chinese.

    It is also important that China is building ties not only with such major regional players as Pakistan, but also with less important countries.

    "For example, China has launched construction of a railroad in Laos, as part of a trans-Asian railway. It is also interesting that China is trying to establish control not only over banks and companies, but also over infrastructure, including transportation and energy supplies. Thus, Beijing creates ground for its future financial and industrial leadership," the expert pointed out.


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