China appoints Trade Specialist Nong Rong as ‘Ambassador to Pakistan’ to facilitate CPEC development

Despite having high goals, the program has seen difficulties, many of them due to Pakistan's debt problem and the weak economy.

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To help improve multibillion-dollar infrastructure developments, China has appointed a trade specialist as its new Ambassador to Pakistan.

The Communist Party Secretary of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Nong Rong was named by the Foreign Ministry as a replacement to Yao Jing. Although Rong has no formal experience as a diplomat, his qualification makes him an ideal fit for the position.

A South Asian specialist at the Shanghai Municipal Centre for International Studies, Wang Dehua, said that although Nong isn’t trained as a diplomat, his experience with the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission says that he will be capable of dealing with such issues.

One of Nong Rong’s main roles will be to promote CPEC, the $62bn program under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Shakeel Ahmad Ramay, a political commentator from Islamabad, said Nong’s experience in trade and commerce made him the ideal choice.

“Nong’s experience will be useful in strengthening economic cooperation”, he said.

The Chinese official has sensitivity and understanding when it comes to border affairs, religion, and ethnicity.

Nong Rong’s qualification

Before taking over the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Commission, Nong worked as a mayor and deputy party secretary of the city of Guigang in Guangxi.

Before that, he spent six years in the Trade and Economic Cooperation Department. During his time there, he helped to organize a major expo held between China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

Launched in 2013, CPEC’s aim is to develop ports, railways, roads, and factories, etc. However, according to government figures, up till March 2020, less than a third of the announced projects, with a combined value of only $19 billion, have been completed.

China and Pakistan announced the launch of CPEC’s second stage in April 2020. The new phase will focus on ‘industrial cooperation, socio-economic development, trade, and agriculture’.

Despite having high goals, the program has seen difficulties, many of them due to Pakistan’s debt problem and the weak economy.

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