China has rejected the 'interference' by the United States into the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Pakistan-China ties.
A spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in Islambad said China was "more than glad" to see the US develop its relationship with Pakistan, "but we strongly oppose the US interferes into China-Pakistan relations and the CPEC."
The Chinese statement came in response to criticism of CPEC by the visiting Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affair Alice Wells.
Blacklisted firms got CPEC project contracts, says Wells
Addressing a think tank in Islamabad, Wells criticized the flagship project of China's One Belt One Road Initiative. She said that there was no transparency in CPEC projects, while Pakistan's debt burden was growing due to the Chinese financing. Wells also said companies blacklisted by the World Bank had got contracts in the CPEC.
Wells also questioned the immunity from prosecution for the newly formed CPEC Authority that served as the focal body working to identify new areas of cooperation and projects, besides facilitation, coordination and monitoring of ongoing projects.
About the debt problem, Wells insisted that Chinese money was not assistance. By getting Chinese financing for the projects, Pakistan was buying expensive loans and as a buyer it needed to be aware of what it was doing as this would take a heavy toll on its already struggling economy, she contended.
The US official also touched on the cost escalation in railways ML-1 upgrade project. The link connects Karachi with Peshawar. She urged the government to be transparent about the mega project.
The Chinese spokesperson
"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." we have to make our position clear and reject the negative propaganda by the US. We must not let the truth be distorted and the lies run wild," the Chinese embassy spokesperson said.
"The comments hold nothing new," the embassy said and reminded that both China and Pakistan have repeatedly rejected similar insinuations in the past. "However, the US side still ignores the facts and is obsessed with the story it made for the CPEC," it added.
Countering the debt burden claim, the Chinese embassy said that not only the Americans are "bad in mathematics", but their "intentions are worse". It explained that as per State Bank of Pakistan, the total foreign debt of Pakistan is 110 billion US dollars out of which CPEC's share is about $5.8 billion or 5.3 per cent of the total foreign debt. CPEC repayments, it said, would commence from 2021 and would be payable over 20-25 years with an interest rate of approximately 2%. The annual repayment, it said, would be approximately $300 million, which would not be a burden for Pakistan.
About cost escalation of the ML-1 project, the embassy said that although the initial design review was successful, the project has not yet been approved as yet. The cost of the project will be adjusted according to the actual condition and the needs of Pakistan once it is finalized. "After finalizing the design of the project, we would initiate bidding in accordance with international practice. This is a completely normal business practice," it said.
"We also want to advise the US that when you accuse China-Pakistan relations, you should first look back at what have you done to Pakistan, and think about how much contribution have you made for Pakistan," the statement said, urging the US to bring cash and funds, promote win-win cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, fairness, and justice, rather than acting as a world policeman, spreading rumors and trying to spoil China-Pakistan relations.
Imran Khan rejects Wells criticism of CPEC
Prime Minister Imran Khan has roundly rejected the notion being projected by US officials that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is some sort of a debt trap.