Islamabad: Pakistan on Monday signed an agreement on handing over operations of the strategic Gwadar port to a Chinese company. President Asif Ali Zardari, speaking on the occasion, expressed confidence that the agreement will give new impetus to Pakistan-China relations, Radio Pakistan reported.
"Today, the agreement is transferred from the Port of Singapore Authority to China Overseas Ports Holding Company Limited," he announced.
Zardari expressed confidence that the award of the contract will open new opportunities, particularly for the people of Balochistan. He said it will "give new impetus to Pakistan-China relations and take further our political cooperation into the realm of economic cooperation".
The president said handing over of Gwadar Port operations to China is "a manifestation of our growing ties and also shows the trust Pakistan has in the Chinese ability to deliver on our infrastructure projects".
He said development of a trade corridor linking Xinjiang to the Middle East through Gwadar Port will enhance trade and commerce not only between the two countries but also in the region.
Zardari said the port also has strategic importance for China as around 60 per cent of China's crude oil comes from the Gulf countries that are close to Gwadar. He said Gwadar is now a potential hub of trade and commerce in the region. It also holds the key to bring together the countries of Central Asia.
In his speech on the occasion‚ Chinese ambassador Liu Jian said the transfer of Gwadar Port's operations to China will bring tangible benefits to the two countries and contribute to peace‚ stability and development of the region. He said Gwadar Port is part of greater framework of economic cooperation between Pakistan and China.