Pakistan and China have rejected American claims that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is only being financed through loans and other non-concessional financing. Various ministries have been on a defensive charge to counter claims made by US diplomat Alice Wells a few days back. The Foreign Office spokesperson claimed that CPEC debt only amounts to “$4.9 billion, which is not even 10 per cent of the country’s total debt”. The spokesperson said CPEC has helped Pakistan address development gaps in various areas and gave the specific example of power plants with a total capacity of 7,000 MW. She also claimed that CPEC has enhanced regional connectivity and prosperity by providing enormous economic benefits for the people of Pakistan, along with socioeconomic development. The Planning Ministry separately claimed that the projects completed so far “have already brought relief and started yielding dividends and tangible socioeconomic benefits”. It said that CPEC projects will accelerate development and economic growth.
But there was also an oddly defensive line about “Pakistan being a sovereign state that exercises the right to choose economic partners…on a mutually beneficial basis.” This is common knowledge in all trade deals, which makes it a strange point to stress on. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi also stressed that when it comes to the CPEC, Pakistan “will continue to do what is beneficial to us”.
China, meanwhile, called the US statement “negative propaganda” and said that it strongly opposed US interference in China-Pakistan relations and CPEC. The Chinese Embassy claimed that Beijing always puts the interests of Pakistan’s people first in CPEC projects. The embassy statement also listed a series of CPEC-related achievements, including that CPEC projects have significantly improved Pakistan’s transportation infrastructure and power supply while creating over 75,000 jobs.
There were also direct attacks on US foreign policy in the statement. Criticism was focused on America’s use of sanctions for “blacklisting this and that country”, in reference to the Wells’ claim that blacklisted companies were working on CPEC-related projects. The embassy claimed US blacklisting had less to do with protecting the global economy, and more with its own political goals.