China-Pakistan Economic Corridor And Its Implications
Pakistan and China bonded in the relationship known as higher than the Himalayas, sweeter than honey and stronger than steel have categorically rejected the vicious propaganda of US administration regarding the debt trap, transparency and fairness of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
It is not the first time that US officials have manipulated the facts and the ground realities about the game-changer project that has provided tangible social and economic benefits for the Pakistani society in terms of energy projects, improving infrastructure and operationalizing southwest Gwadar port and now the second phase is bringing cooperation in the social sector, agriculture development, and industrial cooperation.
Speaking to an audience at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Alice Wells, acting assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, said the US offered a better model that would improve the fundamentals of Pakistan’s troubled economy.
She also raised questions about the transparency and fairness of CPEC projects as well as related Chinese loans Islamabad has received.
In the address Alice Wells made the big claim that the US offered a better model but the reality is that these offers were always conditional and political in nature based on a zero-sum game.
Whenever Pakistan received any financial assistance from the US, such assistance also carried “do more” mantra for Pakistan in various sectors of the society.
On the other side, Chinese financial assistance to Pakistan was always non-conditional and non-political in nature based on the mutual consensus, consultation, inclusiveness and win-win results providing sustainable economic uplift to Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umer set the record straight on Pakistan’s ties with China and CPEC by stating that relations between two brotherly nations will never fray.
The minister rejected the notion that CPEC is increasing debt and made it clear that CPEC brought only a $4.9 billion loan to Pakistan at the average interest rate of 2.34 percent, which is comparatively very low, while the rest is an investment.
He clarified that the total public debt of Pakistan is around $74 billion while the debt to CPEC is only $4.9 billion, or 10 percent of the total debt, while the rest 90 percent was to Western countries and international financial institutions.
More than $29 billion projects under CPEC have been completed or are under construction while the major investment in the second phase of CPEC for industrial development was on the cards for the investment.
In the past six years, the launch of CPEC has not put a burden on the Pakistani economy but helped it come out of crises.
The spokesperson of the Ministry of Planning and Development stated that the major share of CPEC investments is allocated to energy projects and all the energy projects are in Independent Power Plant (IPP) model and thus bearing no financial liabilities on the Government of Pakistan.
It was stated that for infrastructure projects, the amount is $5.8 billion and that too concessionary loan at 2.34 percent with the repayment tenure of 25 years starting from 2021.
The projects have directly and indirectly generated 81,121 total employment in these projects, with more than 90 percent of jobs for Pakistani workers.
Amid the construction of CPEC, Pakistan has risen to 108 in the ease of doing business from 136 in 2018, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings.
Pakistan takes the 82nd place from the 108th on the global competitiveness index. All these make great opportunities for attracting foreign investment and realizing industrial upgrading.
Official records show that in the first stage substantial work has been done. For instance, in the broad category, a total of 1,544 kilometers have been constructed and 1,456 kilometers are under construction. In the energy sector, 5,320 MW of electricity has been added to the national grid while work on seven projects with 4,170 MW power projects are nearing completion.
Additional projects of 2,844 MW are planned. Also, a cross-border optical fiber project which stretches over 820-kilometer linking Khunjrab to Rawalpindi has already been completed.
The generating capacity of the completed energy projects of CPEC accounts for nearly 30 percent of Pakistan’s total power generation.
Regarding development in Gwadar, 10 projects in infrastructure and social sector development have either been completed or are under construction. Among the completed projects, the Gwadar port is functional.
Most importantly, the Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan for the integrated development of the city was approved on August 23, 2019, and ready for implementation.
Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan Yao Jing also took strong note of the Alice Wells statement and put the facts straight in front of media by stating that the remarks of Alice Wells exposed her ignorance of China-Pakistan relations.
He said facts have proved that China has provided the Pakistani people with cheap and clean energy and has won unanimous support from Pakistani people of all walks of life.
The people of China and Pakistan are the most qualified to evaluate the corridor.
He questioned that if the United States really cares about the power shortage in Pakistan, why there have been no American companies coming to Pakistan to build power plants before 2014?
China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners who stand together through thick and thin and share weal and woe.
It is evident that CPEC is on a smooth track and enjoying the full backing of the two countries. The allegations on this flagship initiative are mere propaganda which is not based on ground reality and facts.
The author of this article is a Malik Jawad and from Pakistan and, the opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.
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