By Muhammad Asghar
BEIJING – The first batch of Pakistani students has graduated from a Chinese university in Nanjing, capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province.
The 10 students who received a master’s degree in transportation in Southeast University last week, were fully financed by China Road & Bridge Corporation (CRBC), according to the Chinese state media.
 After returning to Pakistan, they will join the efforts to build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Belt and Road.
In 2017, the CRBC announced that it would give full finance to 100 Pakistani college graduates, government workers and technicians to take a two-year postgraduate program, so as to train talent specialized in infrastructure construction and management.
Under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China is becoming a growingly popular study destination for Pakistani students.
Statistics released by the Chinese ministry of education show that in 2012 there were 9,630 Pakistani students in China, while the number surged to 28,023 in 2018 and Pakistan ranked third in the number of international students currently studying in China.
South Korea ranked first with 50,600 students, followed by Thailand with 28,608, India with 23,198, and the United States with 20,996.
The official data shows that China has become the top education destination for Pakistani students as out of all of them enrolled in Chinese universities, around 7,034 are studying on scholarships.
The number of Pakistani students has risen in China mainly because of a series of preferential policies offered by the Chinese government after the launch of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a pilot project of Belt and Road Initiative.
Currently, 6,156 Pakistani students are studying in Ph.D., 3,600 in Masters, 11,100 in Bachelors and 3,000 in Short Term Exchange Programs across China.
Pakistani students are studying Chinese language, engineering, medical, computer science and various other fields.
Pakistani students also enthusiastically participate in cultural activities organized different universities across China and set up booths decorated with traditional Pakistani stuff and beautiful posters depicting different social and cultural activities and historical places in Pakistan.
They also represent the country in the music, essay writing, and photography competitions to be organized under the Belt and Road Initiative in China.