Islamabad: Pakistan on Saturday rejected United States’ notion of Beijing being the sole benefactor of its China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and asserted that its relations with China within the purview of the project will never fray.
Addressing a press conference two days after US Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, Alice Wells, strongly criticised China’s international development projects and lending practices under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Pakistan’s newly appointed Minister for Planning Asad Umar said that CPEC would not prove to be a burden for the country but help in providing a strong basis for industrial growth for the coming years.
Dawn quoted Mr Umar as saying that Pakistan “has always recognised that CPEC is not an aid and this government has always maintained that it wishes to move past the initial scope of the arrangement.”
“The aid that Pakistan received in the past did not really contribute in real terms towards the country’s progress and she was right to point out that we must stand on our own two feet,” Mr Umar said.
“We have said this on many occasions in the past (…) that both countries have benefitted from CPEC. Chinese firms got business as their machinery was exported and came to Pakistan. The lack of infrastructure in Pakistan, especially in the power sector, was where a lot of the country’s needs were met,” he added.
In her address at an event in Washington, Ms Wells had deemed CPEC a form of financing ensuring guaranteed profits for Chinese state-owned enterprises, and pointed out that the multi-billion dollar project is certain to take a toll on Pakistan’s economy.
She had raised concerns over the lack of transparency in the project, saying that it could foster corruption and increase the project cost, thereby resulting in an even heavier debt burden for Pakistan.
The CPEC is a multi-billion dollar development project, with a planned network of roads, railways and energy projects linking China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region with Pakistan”s strategic Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.