Lahore - Pakistan yesterday rejected a report published in international economic magazine Financial Times regarding the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), saying it remains committed to the mega project.
The $62 billion-initiative, which is part of Beijing’s grand Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), includes a grand revamp of Pakistan’s Gwadar port, building of road and rail links as well as setting up of power plants.
Financial Times reported on Sunday several top government functionaries as saying that PTI-led government will look into BRI investments and renegotiate the trade agreement inked a decade earlier. The agreement extends unfair advantages to Chinese firms, they said.
The magazine Prime Minister’s Adviser on Commerce and Industry Abdul Razzak Dawood as saying that the previous government did a bad job negotiating with China on CPEC and “gave away a lot”.
The report claimed that several other officials had also of PM Imran Khan’s government had suggested extending the terms of CPEC loans and spreading its projects out over a longer timeframe.
But Dawood on Monday contradicted the report. Speaking to ARY News, the adviser said that there were some misconceptions regarding his interview with the Financial Times and he will soon issue a clarification.
Later, the Ministry of Commerce and Textile issued a clarification saying Pakistan rejects the article especially its title, “Pakistan rethinks its role in China’s Belt and Road plan”. It reaffirmed country’s commitment to the CPEC.
“The statements attributed to Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce and Textile have been taken out of context and distorted. Pakistan-China relations are impregnable and the Government’s commitment to CPEC is unwavering,” reads the statement.
It quoted Dawood as saying that during recent visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi the two sides reiterated the “all-weather strategic cooperative partnership” between Pakistan and China and also reaffirmed their commitment to CPEC.
The Adviser said the Chinese side also highlighted the significance of CPEC for both sides. “There is complete unanimity between the two sides on the future direction of CPEC,” he said.
Earlier on Sunday, a meeting between Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar and his Chinese counterpart on Sunday concluded with the aim of making all efforts for the success CPEC.
During the meeting, both the sides expressed their agreement that CPEC is an engine of rapid growth in Pakistan and manifestation of Pak-China relations that would further promote inclusivity. Both the countries agreed on introducing a mechanism to ensure third country participation in CPEC.
“CPEC is a reality which promises bright future of Pakistan, aimed at initiating a modern era of trade and economic growth. To achieve the new set targets, the government is dedicated to put all energies together to make progress at the earliest,” said Bakhtiar according to a statement issued after the meeting.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Monday that the all projects being constructed under CPEC would equally benefit the people of Pakistan and enable the common people to enjoy its tangible results.
“The achievements made by both the countries in promoting the CPEC are obvious to all,” Geng Shuang said during his regular briefing in Beijing.
He said that China and Pakistan were all-weather strategic partners. “The friendship between China and Pakistan is not only reflected in the political field, but also fully demonstrated in the field of economic cooperation.”
The spokesman said during the visit to Pakistan, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi reached an important consensus with the Pakistani side on accelerating the construction of CPEC.
“As I mentioned earlier, the two sides decided to negotiate and determine the future development path and cooperation direction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in accordance with the economic and social development priorities of the Pakistani side and the needs of the people,” he added.
He said, “Focus on accelerating industrial cooperation and the construction of people’s livelihood projects, and gradually extending to the Western region, so that more people from Pakistan benefit from the corridor.”
Commenting recent visit of State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Pakistan, he said not long ago, Pakistan successfully completed the election process and elected a new government.
Wang Yi’s visit to Pakistan was mainly aimed at comprehensively docking with the Pakistan government, comprehensively cooperating on cooperation in various fields, and making good strides for China-Pakistan relations under the new situation.
Geng Shuang said that China and Pakistan were all-weather strategic partners. The relationship between the two sides was different from that of the parties and the regime changes.
“The Sino-Pakistani friendship has experienced the test of the international situation and the changes of the times. It is rooted in the hearts of the two peoples.”
He said the development of relationship between China and Pakistan was not directed at third parties and would not be affected by their respective developments in relations with other countries.
The spokesman said during the visit, Wang Yi met with Pakistan President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, Speaker Asad Qaiser and Pakistani military leaders, and held talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
“The two sides exchanged in-depth views on comprehensively deepening China-Pakistan all-weather strategic partnership and international and regional issues of common concern and reached consensus”, he added.
He said that politically, the two sides would further deepen strategic mutual trust, strengthen strategic communication, and more firmly support each other’s core and major interests, and communicate and coordinate more closely on major issues of common concern.
“Economically, the two sides will focus on people’s livelihood and strengthen development cooperation,” he added. China will focus its aid to Pakistan to the areas of agriculture, education, he said.
Pakistan, China reaffirm commitment to CPEC