ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has intensified contacts with China after the ‘misunderstanding’ on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor telling Beijing that CPEC was a matter of ‘life and death’ for Pakistan, official sources said.
Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Islamabad had contacted the Chinese foreign ministry ‘several times’ after the Financial Times ‘misquoted’ Adviser Razzak Dawood on CPEC.
One official said: “China understands that we are committed to the CPEC which is in our own benefit. They trust us and have been positive.” He added: “We have been able to clear our position and will remain in contact with Beijing on the issue. CPEC is a matter of life and death for us.”
Earlier, the Foreign Office said Pakistan remained committed to the successful implementation of CPEC. In a statement, the FO said, there was complete consensus on the future trajectory of CPEC and the two sides are in agreement to expand cooperation in other areas including socio-economic development, poverty alleviation, anti-corruption, agricultural cooperation and industrial development as per the needs and priorities of the government of Pakistan.
The Financial Times reported that Pakistan was planning to review or renegotiate agreements reached under China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The projects concerned are part of the $ 62 billion CPEC plan. They include a huge expansion of the Gwadar port on Pakistan’s south coast, as well as road and rail links and $30bn worth of power plants.
“The previous government did a bad job negotiating with China on CPEC - they didn’t do their homework correctly and didn’t negotiate correctly so they gave away a lot,” Abdul Razak Dawood, Advisor for commerce, textiles, industry and investment, was quoted as saying.
The Chinese Embassy in Islamabad took notice of the report in Financial Times regarding remarks by Adviser Razzak Dawood on the CPEC as well as the clarification issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Textile of Pakistan.
A Chinese embassy statement said: “It is a firm consensus between China and Pakistan that the CPEC is a mutually beneficial project and both the governments will carry it forward according to the needs of Pakistan and for the development of Pakistan.”
It added: “Such ill-intentioned reports based on distorted and misquoted information only demonstrate that the report contributor has total ignorance and neglect of the CPEC or China-Pakistan traditional partnership.”
Last week, Prime Minister Khan said that his country’s friendship with China was time tested. In a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at his office, he pledged to enhance partnership.
Chinese President Xi Jinping had proposed the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013. It provides the important network and platform of cooperation among countries along the Belt and Road regions.
There were reports said China had been ‘quietly holding talks’ with Balochistan ‘separatists’ for more than five years to protect the infrastructure projects financed by China. A media report said China wanted safety for its investment which promoted Beijing to contact the Baloch ‘separatists.’ However, China rejected any such talks.
The energy sector and infrastructure development constitute the major areas under the first phase of CPEC. Various energy sector projects being set up under the CPEC project would contribute over 17000 MW of energy to the national grid on completion.
Government officials said CPEC would significantly help towards ensuring inclusive development especially the socio-economic development of the less developed areas of the country. The officials said the CPEC project would help increasing the Gross Domestic Product growth and would strengthen various sectors of the economy.