CPEC- a debt reliever, not debt trap


China-Pakistan relations and especially the multibillion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) rankles many in the region and beyond. As they cannot stop progress on the mega development project, which in fact is a complete success story, they, out of sheer desperation, have started casting aspersions on it by resorting to negative propaganda.
The very statement made by US Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells about the CPEC has also been seen in the same context by the people of Pakistan. And the way Chinese envoy to Pakistan Yao Jing publicly gave point-by-point reply to the objections raised by Alice Wells has once made Pakistan proud of its longstanding relationship with China. While Pakistan really desires to expand its economic and trade relations with Washington as agreed between the leaders of the two countries at the White House meeting but it is also important that the US stops interfering in the internal matters of other countries. Whatever Alice Wells said about the CPEC is totally uncalled-for. The fact is that China kicked started work on this project at a time when nobody was ready to invest in Pakistan due to security reasons and the country was faced with almost eighteen to twenty hours of load shedding. As a result of this project, Pakistan today has become self sufficient rather producing more power than its total demand and the country today have a state of the art road infrastructure in the form of motorways and expressways which in fact go a long way in promoting trade in the region. As regards the US’s concerns on issues such as corruption and Chinese loans, the Chinese Ambassador really gave a befitting reply to allay all those concerns. Speaking at the fifth media forum, the Chinese envoy not only very rejected the allegations of corruption in the CPEC projects but also stated in categorical terms that his country will not push Pakistan for the timely payment of these loans. This is something that Pakistan expects from its Chinese friends who have always come to our rescue in difficult times. However, the fact is that these Chinese loans are not a burden. They are mere ten per cent of the country’s total loans and have been given on soft terms. As the second phase of the CPEC is about to commence which will see rapid industrialization and agriculture development in Pakistan, hence, the payment of these loans should not be a matter of any worry for Pakistan. It will be far better for Washington that it worries more about the payment of its loans to China rather than of those to be returned by Pakistan. For Pakistanis, the CPEC is not a debt trap but a debt reliever and only the time will prove this true.

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