ISLAMABAD: China on Wednesday lashed out at the US for interfering in its ties with Pakistan and dismissed American diplomat Alice Wells’ allegations about a lack of transparency in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects.
In a strongly-worded rebuke issued by the Chinese embassy in Pakistan, Wells’ claims were described as a repeat of “negative propaganda” by the US.
“All Chinese companies joining the CPEC enjoy international reputation,” the statement read in response to Wells’ allegation that companies blacklisted by the World Bank had been awarded CPEC contracts.
“The Chinese government always requests Chinese companies to operate according to local laws and regulations,” the embassy said.
“The entire process is open and transparent and is in line with international norm. We keep in touch with the accountability agencies of Pakistan and it is agreed that the CPEC is clean. The US holds a stick of sanctions all over the world blacklisting this and that country, but it is not for the global economy, just ways to serve its own political purpose.”
On Wells’ assertion that Pakistan’s debt burden was growing due to the Chinese financing, the embassy retorted that the total foreign debt of Pakistan was $110 billion according to the statistics of the State Bank of Pakistan and international financial institutions including the Paris Club and IMF were its largest creditors.
“[The] loan for CPEC is about $5.8 billion, accounting for 5.3% of Pakistan's total foreign debt, with a repayment period of 20-25 years and an interest rate of approximately 2%. Its repayments will start in 2021, with annual repayments of about 300 million US dollars. It will never be a burden to Pakistan,” it added.
“Moreover, China has never forced other countries to pay debts, and will not make unreasonable demands from Pakistan. The US keeps fabricating the so-called debt story, their mathematics is bad, and their intention is worse.”
On the transparency of CPEC projects, the Chinese embassy noted that during its planning or implementation, every project was equally discussed, carefully studied and jointly implemented by both China and Pakistan.
“All projects strictly follow the market-oriented and internationally accepted business model and adopt state-of the-art technology and strict environmental protection standards,” it maintained.
On the US diplomat raising the issue of the cost escalation of the ML-1 project, the embassy responded that the initial design of the project was jointly accomplished by the China Railway No 2 Bureau, National Engineering Services Pakistan Limited (NESPAK) and Pakistan Railways Advisory and Consultancy Services Ltd.
The project was launched in 2016, and the initial design was submitted in May 2017. In April, 2019, it has successfully passed the initial design review, organised by Pakistan Railways, of the complex.
The embassy further noted that as the project had not been approved yet, the expenditure would be adjusted according to the conditions and the needs of Pakistan.
“After finalising the design of the project, we will initiate a bidding process in accordance with international practice. This is a completely normal business practice.”
The embassy maintained that Wells’ comments held nothing new and she used the same clichés from her November 2019 speech, which was repeatedly rejected by China and Pakistan.
“However, the US still ignores the facts and is obsessed with the story it made for the CPEC,” it added.
“We would be more than glad to see the US develop its relationship with Pakistan, but we strongly oppose the US interference in China-Pakistan relations and the CPEC. Although you can never wake up a person who is pretending to be asleep, we have to make our position clear and reject the negative propaganda by the US. We must not let the truth be distorted and lies run wild.”
The embassy further stated that China and Pakistan were firmly committed to the principles of mutual consultation and cooperation for shared benefits in CPEC projects. “We put Pakistani people's interests first. Major progress has been achieved in the past five years, with 32 projects achieving early harvests. This has significantly improved local transportation infrastructure and power supply, created over 75,000 jobs directly and contributed one to two percent of the GDP growth in Pakistan,” it pointed out.
“It shows that the CPEC is playing an important role in boosting Pakistan's socioeconomic development and improving people's livelihood. Whether the CPEC works [or not], the answer should be given by the Pakistani people rather than the US.”
The embassy further stated that before raising questions about China-Pakistan relations, the US should first look back at what it had done to Pakistan.
“Think about how much contribution have you [the US] made for Pakistan. Did Ms Wells bring any aid, investment or trade for Pakistan during her visit? If the US truly cares about the development and prosperity of Pakistan and this region, it should bring cash and funds, promote win-win cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, fairness, and justice, rather than act as a world policeman, spreading rumors and provoking China-Pakistan relations.”
The embassy further said China-Pakistan ties were rock-solid and unbreakable. “China will continue to work with the Pakistani government and people to steadily advance the Belt and Road Initiative and CPEC to promote regional peace and development.”