ISLAMABAD - China yesterday made it abundantly clear it did not prefer any particular province in Pakistan regarding the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project.

Deputy Chief Mission of Chinese embassy in Islamabad Zhao Lijian explained that in more than $51 billion CPEC plan, 16 projects are for Balochistan, eight for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 13 for Sindh and 12 for Punjab.

In a series of tweets, Zhao Lijian clarified that all the federating units of Pakistan had a share in this mega corridor project with the highest number being implemented in Balochistan.

He said the Balochistan projects included Khuzdar-Basima Highway, Dera Ismail Khan, Quetta Highway, Hubco Coal Power Plant, Gwadar Power Plant, Gwadar-Nawabshah, Liquefied Natural Gas Terminal and Pipeline, Gwadar Eastbay Expressway, Gwadar New International Airport, Gwadar Eastbay Expressway and Fresh Water Supply scheme for Gwadar.

Some reports quoted Chinese envoy Sun Weidong as telling Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa this week that the western route did not even exist in the CPEC.

Smaller provinces like Balochistan and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had complained regularly that the CPEC was not benefitting all the provinces equally – blaming Punjab of taking away more than its share.

This year, China itself had to intervene and ask Pakistan to remove internal differences over the CPEC to create a favourable environment for the $46 billion project.

Some political parties protested against the federal government over alleged shifting of projects under the CPEC from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Punjab.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak warned the people of the province will not allow construction of the CPEC in any part of the country if its projects were shifted to Punjab.

Recently protests were held in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa against the alleged changing of the CPEC route. China has been pressing Pakistan to resolve the provinces’ differences over the mega project to make it a success.

After Zhao Lijian tweets, the Chinese embassy here issued a statement to clarify the confusion. “CPEC is for Pakistan as a whole and will bring benefits to all Pakistani people including the people from the western parts,” a spokesman of the embassy said.

He said it was “untrue and misreporting” where Chinese ambassador was quoted as saying that he had informed Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the western route did not exist.

“The CPEC is an important consensus reached by the Chinese and Pakistani governments and of great significance in enhancing bilateral connectivity, improving people's livelihood and fostering pragmatic economic and trade cooperation,” the spokesman said.

He said China and Pakistan had put in place a sound mechanism of communication and coordination on the development of CPEC.

“On November 12, 2015, the 5th meeting of Joint Cooperation Committee of CPEC approved the principle of ‘one corridor with multiple passages’ aiming at directly benefiting the socio-economic development of Pakistan, especially the western and north-western regions and providing effective connectivity to Gwadar Port,” he said.

The spokesman said the Monographic Study of Transport Plan, approved in 5th JCC, “clearly mentions that Burhan-Dera Ismail Khan-Quetta-Sorab section will provide much needed connectivity between major connection points of CPEC and will connect the western areas of Pakistan.”

He said: “CPEC is for Pakistan as a whole” and will bring benefits to all Pakistani people including the people from the western parts.

“With the joint efforts of both sides, CPEC projects are running well throughout Pakistan, and the CPEC is being comprehensively implemented. CPEC projects in the western parts of Pakistan are making progress. A number of livelihood projects have also been implemented,” he added.

The spokesman said: “We are committed to join hands with Pakistan to make continuous headway on the CPEC and deliver benefits to the people at an early date.”

Senator Abdul Qayyum, a former Lt. General, said CPEC was imperative for the development of Pakistan. “This will benefit the whole region. Under the CPEC, new link roads and tunnels will be constructed. Especially the Gwadar port will prove to be a game changer in the region,” he said.

General Qayyum said the corridor had great importance for China as well. “The CPEC will shorten the distances between the linked countries. The project will benefit the Western part of China. Even India and Afghanistan will also get benefits from this project,” he maintained.

Defense Analyst Lt. General Raza Muhammad Khan said China and Pakistan had deep ties and they had a relation of mutual confidence.

“Since the inception of Pakistan, the relations between the two neighbouring countries have been going strong. CPEC has strengthened it more,” he said. General Khan said China was also a leading arms supplier to Pakistan.