China has categorically rejected suggestions that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has any hidden military designs, according to Voice of America News.
The economic corridor is a multi-billion dollar project between China and Pakistan, as Beijing plans to build ports, highways, motorways, railways and power plants throughout Pakistan as part of the mega initiative.
The expansion and operations of the deep-sea port of Gwadar, located in the south of Pakistan on the Arabian Sea, is at the heart of the $63 billion project. The strategically located port is operated by a Chinese company.
China has positioned CPEC as the flagship project of its $1-trillion global Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, championed by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“I want to make it very clear, BRI initiative and with CPEC under it, it’s purely a commercial development project. We don’t have any kind of military or strategic design for that,” Chinese ambassador to Islamabad Yao Jing told VOA.
While speaking to the American news website, the Chinese diplomat urged the United States and India to “come to the CPEC project” and “witness the progress on the ground” for themselves, saying it will enable them overcome misunderstandings related to the project.
“There are some kind of doubts that may be there are some things hidden in it. I think that when you have an objective lens to look at this project and to come to the ground to find this progress on the ground then you may have a better understanding of what we are doing here,” said Jing.
The Chinese envoy reiterated that defense cooperation between Pakistan and China had existed for decades. “We don’t want to make the CPEC as such a kind of platform,” the ambassador emphasised.
However, he added, it is “natural and understandable” that the project’s massive size and design raised doubts and suspicions” about its aims.
“Basically, it is for China and Pakistan to make this project a successful economic project, then we can make it clear our intention here,” Jing said.
CPEC aims to link the landlocked western Chinese region of Xinjiang to Gwadar, allowing ships carrying China’s oil imports and other goods from the Persian Gulf to use a much shorter and secure route and avoid the existing troubled route through the Strait of Malacca.
In the next five to seven years, officials estimate, CPEC will have created employment for half-a-million Pakistanis.
“China will never leave Pakistan. I shall say we have confidence in the future of Pakistan,” said Chinese Ambassador Jing.
Jing stressed that China and Pakistan are working together to promote mutual people-to-people connectivity through enhanced education and cultural linkages to improve mutual understanding.
Ambassador Jing says there are eight Chinese universities working to promote Pakistan’s official Urdu language while 12 Pakistan-study centers are working to promote mutual understanding between the two countries. There are 22,000 Pakistanis seeking education in China.
This article originally appeared on Voice of America