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Economy

Think the RCEP is about free trade? Think again

Beijing-led pact is aimed at saving China's own economy via the Belt and Road

A lone power shovel works at a road construction site in Yakawlang, Afghanistan.   © Getty Images

SINGAPORE Delegates from Pakistan's remote Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province were all smiles as they signed an economic cooperation agreement with China on April 17.

"We have set the stage to begin [a] journey of industrialization," the province's chief minister, Pervez Khattak, said proudly at a signing ceremony in Beijing attended by 400 Chinese businesses. "We need the support of our iron brothers to put the province on the path of development and economic growth."

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