–Ambassador Yao says criticism of CPEC ‘baseless’, China ready to clear reservations regarding project
–Deputy envoy rubbishes rumours of Chinese debt trap, says all CPEC energy projects are funded by Chinese commercial loans
ISLAMABAD: Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing on Friday said that Beijing would extend all possible assistance and support to Pakistan’s government to help mitigate its economic woes, as he dismissed the notion that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a burden on the Pakistani economy.
“CPEC is beneficial not only for China but also for Pakistan,” Yao said while giving a media briefing at the Chinese embassy here.
Yao rejected the impression that only Chinese companies are benefiting from CPEC or that “CPEC is a burden on Pakistan’s economy”. He said the Chinese authorities are ready to “provide information and clear reservations” regarding the project at anytime.
“CPEC is China’s trust in Pakistan and we have faith in the ‘Emerging Pakistan’ slogan because the people and the government of Pakistan are hardworking and talented,” he added.
While briefing the media about the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Beijing, Yao said, “We understand that Pakistan is facing many challenges in the financial sector and China, as a true friend, is ready to extend all possible assistance and support to Pakistan.”
He said that China is looking forward to PM Khan’s visit and his keynote address to the participants of the China International Import Expo (CIIE) which is scheduled to take place in Shanghai from Nov 5 to Nov 10.
PM Khan is among the top dignitaries who have been invited to attend the opening session of CIIE which itself reflects Pakistan’s sincere desire to step up its trade ties with Pakistan. Pakistan has also been regarded as a guest of honour at the CIIE where 2,800 companies from all G-20 member states, as well as 50 countries and regions along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), will participate. Of the world’s 44 least developed countries, over 30 will be present at the expo.
“Pakistani companies have been provided with a major pavilion at the expo where around 75 companies would be showcasing their outfits. This will help boost Pakistan’s exports to China and would enhance bilateral trade,” the ambassador said.
Ambassador Yao said that China wants to help Pakistan in developing its manufacturing capacity and enhancing its economic potential. Many investment ventures are also likely to be signed during the Pakistani premier’s visit to Beijing, he added.
“China, with its strong capital and state of the art technology, can help Pakistan transform into a giant exporter. China would provide its huge market and for the same purpose, would like to work with the new Pakistani government,” he said, adding that the priorities of the incumbent government coincided with China’s policies.
Speaking about the progress on CPEC, the Chinese ambassador said that projects worth $19 billion had either been completed or were near completion.
The ambassador also cautioned the media against “some forces in the world who do not wish to see a progressing and prosperous China”.
“They do not want out cooperation with Pakistan. Both countries need to boost mutual confidence and use this bilateral cooperation for regional development. All of us need to unite against the negative forces. The media’s role and cooperation are of utmost importance in this regard and we hope that the media can spread correct information regarding CPEC,” he said.
CHINESE DEBT TRAP RUMOURS RUBBISHED:
Chinese Deputy Chief of Mission Zhao Lijian also gave a detailed briefing to the participants over the progress made in CPEC projects.
He said that all Early Harvest Projects (EHPs) were put on the fast track.
“Out of total 22 EHPs, 10 have been already completed while 12 are near completion. These include seven power projects, laying of fibre optic cable and KLM,” the deputy ambassador said, adding that the total amount involved in EHPs was $19 billion which were being spent on ground projects.
The deputy ambassador also rubbished claims of a debt trap for Pakistan through CPEC projects, saying that CPEC’s financing model does not pose a threat to Pakistan.
“Of all CPEC projects, only KKH Phase-II, Karachi-Lahore Motorway, Orange Line Metro and Optical Fibre project use Chinese government’s soft loans worth $6 billion. According to the statistics released by the Pakistani government, Pakistan’s external debt and liabilities have reached $95 billion as of October 2018. Therefore, the Chinese government’s loan of $6 billion is only 6.3 per cent of Pakistan’s foreign debt,” he said.
He further said that the repayment process would commence from 2021 and Pakistan would pay $300 million to $400 million annually.
“All energy projects under CPEC are in IPP mode and funded by Chinese commercial loans which are borrowed and repaid by Chinese companies. There is no foreign debt on the Pakistani government through these,” he concluded.