Beijing warns US not to meddle in Pakistan-China ties, CPEC [DailyTimes] 23 Jan, 2020

China on Wednesday took a strong exception to ‘negative comments’ by US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells during her visit to Islamabad a day earlier, warning Washington not to meddle in China-Pakistan relations as well as multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative.During her visit to Islamabad on Tuesday, Wells had alleged that there was no transparency in the CPEC projects, claiming that Pakistan’s debt burden was growing due to the Chinese financing. She had also touched on the reported cost escalation of ML-1 railways upgrade project, and claimed that the Chinese companies joining the CPEC were on World Bank’s blacklist.“Under the CPEC, during its planning or implementation, every project is equally discussed, carefully studied and jointly implemented by both China and Pakistan. The Chinese government always requests the Chinese companies to operate according to local laws and regulations,” the statement said, referring to Chinese companies working in Pakistan on different CPEC projects. “All Chinese companies joining the CPEC enjoy international reputation. All projects strictly follow the market-oriented and internationally accepted business model, adopt state of art technology and strict environmental protection standards,” it went on to say. “The entire process is open and transparent and is in line with international norms. We always stay in touch with the accountability agencies of Pakistan and the CPEC has already been declared free of any corruption,” it further said. “The US blacklists countries and organisations just to serve its own political purposes,” it added.The spokesperson said China and Pakistan are firmly committed to the principles of mutual consultation and cooperation for shared benefits. “We put Pakistani people’s interests first. Major progress has been achieved in the past five years, with 32 projects achieving early harvests. This has significantly improved local transportation infrastructure and power supply, created over 75,000 jobs directly and contributed one to two percent of the GDP growth in Pakistan,” the statement read. “It shows that the CPEC is playing an important role in boosting Pakistan’s socioeconomic development and improving people’s livelihood,” it added.The statement also clarified the so-called debt issue. “According to statistics from the State Bank of Pakistan, the total foreign debt of Pakistan is $110 billion. In fact, international financial institutions including the Paris Club and the IMF are the largest creditors of Pakistan. Loan for the CPEC is about $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. It will never be a burden on Pakistan,” it explained. “Moreover, China has never forced other countries to pay debts, and will not make unreasonable demands from Pakistan. The US keeps fabricating the so-called debt story as their intention is not good,” it added. Regarding the cost of the ML-1 project, the spokesperson said, “The initial design of the project was jointly accomplished by China Railway No 2 Bureau, National Engineering Services Pakistan Limited (NESPAK) and Pakistan Railway Advisory and Consultancy Services Ltd (PRACS). The project was launched in 2016 and the initial design was submitted in May 2017. In April 2019, it successfully passed the initial design review, organized by Pakistan Railways (PR), of the complex including Mott McDonald Pakistan (MMP), Canarail and the Crimson,” the statement read. “As the project has not yet been approved, the amount of the project will be adjusted according to the actual condition and the needs of Pakistan. After finalizing the design of the project, we will initiate a bidding in accordance with the international practice,” it asserted. “We also want to advise the US that when you accuse China-Pakistan relations, you should first look back what have you done to Pakistan, and think about how much contribution have you make for Pakistan,” the spokesperson commented, referring to Wells remarks about Pak-China ties. “Did Ms Wells bring any aid, investment or trade for Pakistan during her visit? 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, fairness and justice, rather than act as a world policeman, spreading rumors and provoking China-Pakistan relations,” the statement maintained. “China-Pakistan ties are rock-solid and unbreakable. China will continue to work with the Pakistani government and people to steadily advance BRI and CPEC to promote regional peace and development,” it reaffirmed.

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