The governments of both Pakistan and China on Monday refuted an article published in the Financial Times (FT) which had alleged that Pakistan is looking to renegotiate its position in Beijing's Belt-Road Initiative (BRI).
In the article "Pakistan rethinks its role in Xi’s Belt and Road plan" the FT, while quoting Adviser for Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production, and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood, said Pakistan "should put everything on hold for a year so we can get our act together."
The adviser for commerce was also quoted as saying that the Chinese companies "received tax breaks ... and have an undue advantage in Pakistan; this is one of the things we’re looking at because it’s not fair that Pakistani companies should be disadvantaged.”
The article also mentions Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's recent statement that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) "has not inflicted a debt burden on Pakistan. When these projects get completed and enter into operation, they will unleash huge economic benefits.”
According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Textile on Monday, the Pakistan government "rejects the article especially the title."
"The statements attributed to Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Textile have been taken out of context and distorted," the statement said while reiterating that CPEC is a "national priority for the government."
Moreover, China also issued a statement through its embassy in Islamabad and said there was a "firm consensus between China and Pakistan that CPEC is a mutually beneficial project and both governments will carry it forward according to the needs of Pakistan".
The statement from the Chinese embassy called the FT article "ill-intentioned" and "based on distorted and misquoted information."
Later in the day, the government issued another statement saying Pakistan and China will continue to work towards implementing ongoing CPEC projects and expand the initiative to new areas of cooperation, Radio Pakistan reported.
RadioPak, while quoting a statement of the Foreign Office, said that the new areas that the two governments would work on include "socio-economic development, poverty alleviation, anti-corruption, agricultural cooperation and industrial development."
The state-run website said that this resolve to expand the Pak-China partnership was reached during FM' Yi's three-day visit to Pakistan.