LAHORE: ‘Irresponsible’ statements by federal ministers are deterring Chinese investors and pushing them away from Pakistan, says foreign affairs expert Muhammad Mehdi.

Speaking at a seminar on Chinese success in poverty alleviation held here on Sunday to mark 72nd China National Day falling on Oct 1, he chided Federal Minister Asad Umar for saying Dasu dam project did not fall under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and thus security for those working on it was not as tight as promised for attached to the CPEC.

Mr Mehdi said due to such attitude of the ministers, a large number of Chinese businessmen, who had visited Pakistan during the last couple of years, never returned to invest here. Likewise, he said, no direct foreign investment was coming in the country from the West.

He lamented the incumbent government’s lukewarm response to various CPEC projects, adding that work on the railways ML-1, the main project of the CPEC, could not be executed yet while its cost had gone up by 50 percent.

He regretted that the government was yet to give a national policy on special economic zones (SEZs).

Chinese diplomat Peng Zhengwu called for a new philosophy and a fairer and more reasonable world order to check the threats to global and regional security in the post-cold war scenario, rising unilateralism and Covid-19 pandemic.

The acting consul general of China at Lahore said that his country witnessed a transformative change under the Communist Party leadership over the past 72 years weathering all odds.

He said that Beijing would continue to propel the CPEC forward and that irrespective of the changes in the international scenario, China and Pakistan had always joined hands to move ahead.

Mr Peng said he found Lahore a city of knowledge and thinkers, hoping that events would be organised to harvest this talent of the Punjab’s capital.

Former additional foreign secretary Nazir Hussain said that unlike China, which had assigned 40 universities the task to work on various aspects of the Belt and Road Initiative, Pakistan had not engaged its varsities for the CPEC.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2021

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