ISLAMABAD: The Chinese embassy on Wednesday rejected the statements made by United States (US) Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells regarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Wells had on Tuesday said that Pakistan needed to re-evaluate the agreements it had made with China and consider increasing transparency around CPEC projects. In the statement released in response to Wells, China said the propaganda against CPEC was a “pack of lies”.
A press release issued by the Chinese embassy in Pakistan said that the US was ignoring the facts and was obsessed with the story it had made for itself regarding the economic corridor. “We must not let the truth be distorted and the lies run wild,” the press released read.
“Although you can never wake up a person who is pretending to be asleep, we have to make our position clear and reject the negative propaganda by the US,” the statement added. “We would be more than glad to see the US develop its relationship with Pakistan,” it noted.
While addressing a policy think tank during a visit to Islamabad, the US diplomat had claimed that the debt burden of Pakistan was growing due to Chinese financing. She also touched on the cost escalation in CPEC projects, and questioned the integrity of the companies running them.
“We strongly oppose US interference in China-Pakistan relations and the CPEC. The US holds a stick of sanctions all over the world, blacklists this and that country, not for the global economy, but just to serve its own political purpose,” the Chinese embassy said.
“We also want to advise the US that when you accuse China, you should first look back at what have you done to Pakistan, and think about how much contribution have you made for Pakistan. Did Ms Wells bring any aid, investment or trade for Pakistan during her visit?” it asked.
“If the US truly cares about the development and prosperity of Pakistan and this region, it should bring cash and funds, promote win-win cooperation on the basis of mutual respect rather than act as a world policeman, spreading rumours,” the embassy added.
‘CPEC created 75,00 jobs, contributed to GDP’
According to the Chinese embassy, Beijing enjoyed a rock-solid relationship with Islamabad and the “unbreakable” ties would continue to steadily advance the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and CPEC to promote regional peace and development.
With respect to progress on CPEC projects, the embassy said that major progress was achieved in the past five years, with 32 projects achieving early harvests. “This has significantly improved local transportation infrastructure and power supply,” the embassy noted.
“It has also created over 75,000 jobs directly and contributed one to two percent of the GDP growth in Pakistan. It shows that CPEC is playing an important role in boosting Pakistan’s socio-economic development and improving people’s livelihood,” the statement further added.
The Chinese embassy also maintained that CPEC was a project between China and Pakistan, and the Pakistani people were benefiting from it. “Under the CPEC, during its planning or implementation, every project is equally discussed, carefully studied and jointly implemented by both China and Pakistan,” it said.
‘IMF among largest creditors of Pakistan’
Responding to the allegations made by Wells that CPEC projects were not transparent, the embassy noted that the Chinese government always requested Chinese companies, who enjoy international reputations, to operate according to local laws and regulations.
“The entire process is open and transparent and is in line with international norms. We keep in touch with the accountability agencies of Pakistan and it is agreed that the CPEC is clean,” the statement released by the embassy read.
“All projects strictly follow the market-oriented and internationally accepted business model, adopt state of the art technology and strict environmental protection standards,” it further clarified.
The embassy also addressed the allegation that CPEC was a debt-trap, noting that the total foreign debt of Pakistan was $110 billion. “International financial institutions, including the Paris Club and International Monetary Fund, are the largest creditors of Pakistan.”
‘Will not make unreasonable demands on Pakistan’
The statement further claimed that the loan for CPEC projects stood at around $5.8 billion, accounting for 5.3% of Pakistan’s total foreign debt, with a repayment period of 20-25 years and an interest rate of approximately 2%.
“Its repayments will start in 2021, with annual repayments of about 300 million US dollars. It will never be a burden to Pakistan. Moreover, China has never forced other countries to pay debts, and will not make unreasonable demands on Pakistan,” the embassy said.
“The US keeps fabricating the so-called debt story, their mathematics is bad, and their intention is worse,” the embassy added. Regarding the ML-1 project of the CPEC, the Chinese said that the amounts of the project would be adjusted according to needs of Pakistan.
“After finalising the design of the project, we would initiate bidding in accordance with international practice. This is a completely normal business practice,” the embassy said.
With additional input from APP