Over the years, countries along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) including Pakistan have collaborated to explore the Digital Silk Road and reaped fruitful benefits in this regard.
This was stated by Li Yikai, Deputy Director of Centre for International Economic and Technological Cooperation, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China (MIIT), at the 2021 Online Silk Road Conference of the Fifth China-Arab States Expo held in China’s northwest city of Yinchuan.
Li added, “From 2019 to 2020, there are notable achievements in digital development in BRI countries. For example, the Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) was deployed in Pakistan’s airports, providing accurate timing services for the operations.”
Apart from the cooperation in the satellite navigation system, digital cooperation in other areas also abounds between China and Pakistan.
According to media reports, the China-Pakistan Cross-border Fiber Optic Cable was completed in July 2018, marking the first cross-border terrestrial cable directly connecting China and Pakistan. The 820-km cable, which spans from Urumqi to Rawalpindi through the Khunjerab Pass at the China-Pakistan border, is reported to boost bilateral digital connectivity, a real facilitator of the telecom and ICT industry in Pakistan.
Applications of digital technology can also be noted between the two countries. Under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Pakistan has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China’s Wuhan Landing Medical High-tech Co., Ltd. to introduce its artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted diagnostic technology for screening cervical cancer in Pakistan, a disease that can affect millions of women in Pakistan.
With 18 years of experience in the IT sector at Ericsson (China), Shoukat told CEN that such bilateral digital cooperation will go even further. “Pakistan has launched the Digital Pakistan campaign, and China has been a global leader in the digital sector especially 5G. So there is a lot of space for mutual cooperation in this regard.”
He added, “Pakistan has a lot of potential in the IT sector. When Pakistani IT talents have the opportunity to venture abroad and work in countries like China, they will definitely bring very good results.”