Chinese and Pakistani employees working on the Matiari-Lahore transmission line under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) celebrated Eid al-Fitr together, with Chinese colleagues joining in the festivities and providing a bonus for the festival. The celebration is an example of the cultural exchange between the two countries fostered by CPEC, which has not only upgraded Pakistan’s infrastructure but also strengthened the bond between the two nations.
Grooving to festive Pakistani music on Eid night after enjoying a feast thrown by Chinese colleagues, Junaid Ali thought that despite being hundreds of miles away from home, he celebrated the festival to its fullest.
Working at the Matiari station of the Matiari-Lahore transmission line under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Ali had to stay at the station to ensure stable operation of the grid where his Chinese colleagues tried their best to make his and other locals’ Eid the most memorable one in their lives. “They celebrated the Eid with us, greeted all of us individually for the Eid, and we got a good bonus for the festival,” Ali said, adding that “the best part of the day was the pre-dinner speeches where both Chinese and Pakistanis spoke their heart out about the friendship, brotherhood, and unity of the people of two countries in short speeches.”
Launched in 2013, the CPEC is a corridor linking Pakistan’s Gwadar port with Kashgar in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which highlights energy, transport and industrial cooperation. The project of 878 km-long power transmission line was invested in, constructed, and run by the State Grid Corporation of China, and started its commercial operation in September of 2021.
The project will transport power from the new generating units located in the south of the country, including Thar coal-based projects. The project has a large number of Chinese and local employees who not only work together to serve the people of Pakistan but also share each other’s joys and sorrows together. “We celebrate the Spring Festival with Chinese colleagues, and they celebrate Eid with us; we savor their noodles and dumplings, and they relish our biryani (spicy rice cooked with meat), we are fond of table tennis, and they try to learn and play cricket with us … CPEC has developed strong cultural ties between us, and today’s Eid celebration is an illustration of it,” Ali told Xinhua.
The big family of the Thar Coal Block-II Coal Electricity Integration project was jubilant on Eid night after celebrating the festival together in the remote desert located in Pakistan’s south Sindh province. The project, which was built by China Machinery Engineering Corporation, has a major power plant under CPEC in Pakistan to help the country meet its electricity demands by using locally available coal and started its commercial operation in October of 2022. “CPEC has brought us closer in a way that we learn from each other and appreciate each other’s customs and traditions. Today’s Eid celebrations serve as a practical example of the positive outcomes of this cultural exchange, which has fostered everlasting friendship between our nations,” Syed Farrukh Shah, a deputy manager of the health, safety and environment department of the project, told Xinhua.
He said that their Eid day started with Chinese colleagues presenting sweets to Pakistanis, greeting them the Eid, and the highlight of the day was the dinner on the open lawn under the stars of the peaceful Eid night sky. “The tranquil night, the delicious food, and the joyous atmosphere all around filled my heart with gratitude, and it was so heart-warming to see Chinese colleagues join in the festivities with such enthusiasm,” he said. Pakistani experts who have been observing the strengthening of people-to-people relations over the years are of the view that cultural festivals like Eid make the bond stronger and give an opportunity to deepen the understanding of each other’s culture and customs.
In a conversation, Raja Tahir Qayyum, currently working in the operations department of CPEC’s Karot Hydropower project and has over 11 years of experience working with different Chinese companies, said that celebrating festivals together is just like cementing the bond. “The beauty of CPEC is that through it not only Pakistan’s road and infrastructure was upgraded, but the bond between the two nations also got stronger due to increased cultural exchanges.”