ISLAMABAD: There are less than 20,000 Chinese nationals in Pakistan but some elements are continuously spreading rumours that Beijing will occupy Pakistan through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

This was stated by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed at the third CPEC media forum held at a local hotel on Monday.

“Currently, China and its companies are executing 300 projects in Pakistan. Over 9,000 Chinese nationals are working under CPEC and around 10,000 on non-CPEC projects,” he said.

“The fact is no country is willing to invest in Pakistan the way China has been doing. Moreover, China has made investments across the country without differentiation of provinces and its people,” he said.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed says some elements spreading rumours that China will occupy Pakistan through CPEC

Explaining the reason behind the rumours, Mr Sayed said the balance of power was shifting from West to East and the world was not going to remain unipolar as China was emerging as a global power.

“China has pulled out 700 million people from below poverty to above poverty line. Moreover, Beijing has never shown aggression against any country,” he said.

In reply to a question about a US official’s assertion that CPEC was passing though a disputed territory, Mr Sayed said almost 50 years ago the US had contributed in the construction of Mangla Dam in the same area which it now considers a disputed territory just because of China.

“The fact is Gwadar Port has become functional just because of China and coal-run and other power plants are contributing 4,000MW of electricity to the national grid system. Within 10 years, a number of small industries will be shifted from China and Pakistan should grab the opportunity to have the industrial units. We can also utilise other opportunities,” he said.

Earlier, the media forum was inaugurated by Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing. The ambassador termed CPEC a ‘key component of the Pakistan-China strategic relationship’ and said: “I am learning and reading about CPEC.”

He said CPEC should benefit local communities where its projects were located. “Moreover, I am ready to meet and brief the media regularly on CPEC. A CPEC expo will also be held in Gwadar on January 28, 2018.” At the concluding session, Senator Sayed launched two new research monographs of the Pakistan-China Institute (PCI) on ‘Energy projects under CPEC’ and ‘CPEC: fact vs fiction’ under the theme of its series on ‘Corridors, culture and connectivity’.

Published in Dawn, November 28th, 2017