China rightly spurns US on CPEC

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Naveed Aman Khan

The game changer multibillion dollars worth China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is under question mark as US official Alice Wells has recently negatively propagated about it. Alice, Trump’s aide on South Asia, has warned Pakistan that it will face long-term economic damage with little return if China keeps pursuing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which, according to her, would profit only China. China- Pakistan Economic Corridor, heralded as a game changer by both Pakistan and China, is going to take a growing toll on the Pakistan economy, especially when the bulk of payments start to come due in the next four to six years, Wells said at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars. Even if loan payments are deferred, they are going to continue to hang over Pakistan’s economic development potential, hamstringing IK reform agenda, she added. Alice Wells also said that the CPEC is not about aid, as she claimed that the USA offered Pakistan a better model. Why the US had suspended its aid promised for Pakistan only because of political priorities. The top US diplomat noted that CPEC was driven by non concessionary loans, with Chinese companies sending their own labour and material. She said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor relies primarily on Chinese workers and supplies, even amid rising unemployment in Pakistan.

While acknowledging that America could not come to Pakistan, a historic ally, with offers from state-run companies, Wells said private US investment, coupled with US grants, would improve the troubled economy’s fundamentals. The Chinese Ambassador rebuffed Wells’ allegations, saying that so far more than seventy five thousand Pakistani workers have been given jobs in the CPEC projects, while around 2.3 million jobs are expected to be created in these projects by 2030. There is a different model. Worldwide US companies bring more than just capital. They bring values, processes and expertise that build the capacities of local economies as hidden objectives. Alice pointed to interest in Pakistan by US companies including Uber, Exxon Mobil, Pepsi Co and Coca-Cola, with the soft drink makers together investing US $1.3 billion in the country.

Top Chinese diplomat, Excellency Yao Jing, angrily spurned US criticism of his country’s multibillion-dollar infrastructure push in Pakistan as he publicly gave point-by-point reply to the objections raised by the acting US Assistant Secretary of State. He rebuffed the allegations, saying that Sino-Pak relationship was mutually beneficial and based on a win win cooperation for both sides. Yao said that China has always come forward to assist Pakistan in need without any political considerations. If Pakistan is in need, China would never ask Pakistan to repay its loans in time, he said while pointing out that the International Monetary Fund, which is mainly governed by the West, was strict in its repayment system. The global lending agency approved a US $ 6 billion loan to help resuscitate Pakistan’s ailing economy. Ambassador Yao welcomes the US investment offer while dismissing that China’s promises in Pakistan are limited to the development of Gwadar into a world-class port. China would be happier to see more investment coming from the United States in Pakistan. China is determined to build capacity of Pakistani businessmen and industrialists to boost productivity which would ultimately help in increasing local exports. Under CPEC, China would provide industrial cooperation to Pakistan and for this purpose over two dozen leading Chinese and Pakistani manufacturers and industrialists were engaged to boost production and exports of Pakistan. When in 2013, the Chinese companies were establishing power plants in Pakistan, where was the United States then? Why it did not invest in Pakistan’s power sector despite knowing that Pakistan was in dire need of electricity. Ambassador Yao was surprised at Alice Wells’ statement of higher tariff in power plants, established under CPEC, saying that he himself had earlier briefed the US diplomat about the tariff structure of these plants and told that the tariff structure was the lowest among all the countries to which Chinese companies provide electricity.

It is easy to level allegations without evidence. Excellency Yao Jing himself had discussed this matter with a number of concerned stakeholders, including the National Accountability Bureau, but did not find even a single evidence of corruption in any of the CPEC projects. Before alleging, USA should have enough evidence about certain allegations. With regard to the Main Line (ML-1) railway project that is to be executed under CPEC, the project cost is around US $ 9 billion. It is only estimation and not the final cost. The real cost of the project will be finalized in the second stage of determining financial package of the project. America has gone offensive against China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a signature project of President Xi Jinping which aims to build ports, highways and railways around the world. The multibillion-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor is a part of President Xi’s BRI vision. Pakistani media should nullify US and Western propaganda effects against CPEC. Media is a major tool of information and platform of interaction. Media from both Pakistan and China have already been playing positive role in strengthening state-to-state relations. The media of Pakistan and China is playing an important role in protecting CPEC and bilateral relations of Pakistan and China. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has become a success.

Now US has come out to oppose CPEC as its priority number one. Very wrongly it looks CPEC has become its prime matter of worry. American biased propaganda will only encourage our day one enemy India. Pakistan and China know how to deal with their enemies. Pakistan and China will have to stand jointly against all odds because future of both China and Pakistan is in CPEC and strong bilateral relationship.