ISLAMABAD: Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing on Friday said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects were free of corruption.
Speaking at the fifth CPEC media forum, organised jointly by the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad and Pakistan-China Institute, the envoy said that CPEC projects were investigated and it was unanimously concluded that there was no corruption in their affairs. “CPEC is clean,” he said.
Mr Yao was responding to senior US official Ambassador Alice Wells’ comments at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre in which she alleged that CPEC projects were piling debt burden on Pakistan and lacked transparency.
“We hope Pakistanis will ask Beijing tough questions on debt, accountability, fairness and transparency... Ask the Chinese government why it is pursuing a development model in Pakistan, that significantly deviates from what brought China its own economic success,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells said.
Chinese ambassador rejects US criticism of mega-project
Ambassador Yao said he was “shocked and surprised” at Ms Wells’ speech which “fully exposes her ignorance of Pakistan-China relations”.
He said the US should not cast aspersion over something about which it doesn’t have accurate information.
Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said Pakistan-China relations and the success of CPEC “rankles many” in the region and beyond, hence while they cannot stop or slow the project, now they are trying to undermine it through negative propaganda.
About the so-called debt trap, he said 91 per cent of the Pakistani debt is owed to the West, including multilateral institutions, and only 9pc to China.
APP adds: Mr Yao called upon the media to play its role in nullifying the effects of propaganda against the CPEC.
“Media is a major vehicle of information and platform of interaction,” he said while addressing the CPEC media forum. “Media from both Pakistan and China have already been playing role in promoting state-to-state relations.”
He said that Pak-China relations were based on win-win cooperation and were mutually beneficial.
China always came forward to assist Pakistan in need without any political or government differences.
The envoy said that if Pakistan was in need, China would never ask Pakistan to repay its loans in time. However, he pointed out, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was strict in its repayment system.
He wondered why the US had suspended its aid promised to Pakistan and said Washington obviously did so because of political priorities. “When in 2013, the Chinese companies were establishing power plants in Pakistan, where was the US? Why it did not invest in Pakistan’s power sector despite knowing that Pakistan was in dire need of electricity?” he asked.
With respect to the US allegation of corruption in CPEC projects, Mr Yao said it was easy to hurl allegations at anyone without having evidences.
With regard to the Main Line (ML-1) railway project which is to be executed under the CPEC, he clarified that the project’s cost is around $9 billion; however, it is only an estimate. “The real cost of the project will be finalised in the second stage of determining financial package of the project,” he added.
The Chinese ambassador also reacted to the US accusation of providing few jobs to Pakistani workers in CPEC projects, saying that so far over 75,000 Pakistani workers had been given job opportunities and that around 2.3 million jobs are expected to be created in CPEC projects by 2030.
“I would be more happy to see more investment coming from the United States to Pakistan,” Mr Yao said, adding that China was determined to build capacities of Pakistani businessmen and industrialists to boost productivity in the country which would ultimately help increase Pakistan’s exports.
Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2019