The Chinese embassy in Pakistan on Thursday called out US diplomat Alice Wells for her "irresponsible remarks" regarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), calling it another "doomed attempt to defame Sino-Pak relations".
A day earlier, Wells had repeated her criticism of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and CPEC during an online media briefing and had urged Beijing to relieve the countries involved in these undertakings of its “predatory loans".
The US calls on “China to offer transparent relief from the BRI’s predatory loans that countries are suffering from, emerge on stable footing," she had said.
Wells had reiterated that the US was concerned about CPEC projects because of a lack of transparency, and the unfair rates of profits that are guaranteed to Chinese firms involved in their execution.
In a statement issued today reacting to the diplomat's comments, the Chinese embassy called her speech "totally baseless [and] just a repetition of her same old tune".
"We take Pakistan as an equal partner and never asked Pakistan to 'do more'. We support Pakistan’s own model of development and never intervene in its domestic affairs. We highlight Pakistan’s responsible role in regional affairs and never exert pressure.
"CPEC is an important cooperation project between the governments of China and Pakistan. It has always adhered to the principles of mutual benefit, win-win cooperation, openness and transparency.
"The planning and implementation of the projects are carried out by the two sides through thorough consultations based on equality and scientific study.The Chinese companies under the project are all leading companies in their respective sectors and operate in full compliance with local laws and regulations," the statement said.
It added that so far, CPEC has brought $25 million in direct investment and created more than 75,000 jobs in Pakistan. "China has been the major source for [foreign direct investment] for Pakistan in the past five consecutive years."
The embassy also highlighted the cooperation extended to Pakistan to cope with the coronavirus outbreak.
"All Chinese companies working for CPEC have generously donated medical assistance to Pakistan [...] Over 20,000 Pakistani students are studying in China on scholarships provided by the Chinese government and universities.
"In the next stage of the project, both sides will strength cooperation on healthcare, industrial development, agriculture and education. CPEC will give a new impetus to Pakistan’s economic revival even in the post Covid-19 period."
The statement added that China will "never force Pakistan to pay back debts" and that "China's loans have no strings attached".
"We have no intention on commenting on Pakistan-US relations, but we hope that the United States can show basic respect to the [two countries]," the statement said, adding that China hoped the US would abandon its "cold war and zero sum mentality" and give "concrete assistance to Pakistan".
"We need no teachers, especially a teacher like the US," the statement concluded.
This is not the first time Wells has criticised CPEC. In November 2019, Wells had said that the multi-billion-dollar project would take a toll on Pakistan’s economy at the time of repayments and dividend in the coming years.
She had stated that the project was a form of financing that guarantees profits for Chinese state-owned enterprises, with little benefits for Islamabad.