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One of China's biggest banks is planning to open a branch near Pakistan's strategic Gwadar port amid growing partnership between the two countries, a senior Pakistani official said. The deep-water port has a strategic importance for the Belt and Road initiative, a part of which - the $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) - connects Pakistan's southern region to China's western Xinjiang region through rail and roads. The CPEC is billed as a 'game-changer' and manifestation of a strategic partnership between Pakistan and China. Gwadar Port Authority Chairman Dostain Khan Jamaldini said in a meeting yesterday that The Bank of China is planning to open a branch in Gwadar in Balochistan. Dawn reported that Jamaldini said that with the Gwadar Deep Seaport becoming operational, several commercial banks have become interested in opening branches in the port city and the Bank of China would start doing business from Gwadar shortly - starting with setting up a branch in the city. "Business and trade activities will flourish in Gwadar with the opening of branches of different national and international banks," he said, adding that for the time the Gwadar Port Oversees and Port Holding had allowed the opening of two banks in Gwadar and one of them was the Bank of China. The chairman claimed that work on the Gwadar Free Zone had started. He said the construction work would be completed in the next couple of months. Jamaldini added that the Pakistani and Chinese were working in three shifts to complete the construction of the Gwadar Free Zone as soon as possible. He disclosed that in the first week of December, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi along with some Chinese ministers would inaugurate the first International expo centre in the free zone. More than 100 Chinese companies are scheduled to participate. Gwadar has become a hub of business activities due to billion dollars China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project which connects western China with Gwadar port.