Pak-China ties are beyond reproach-Chinese Counsel General

THIS is with reference to the article “Don’t blame the Chinese” (Feb 18). China-Pakistan friendship, the result of more than 70 years of careful nurturing and cultivation by the governments and peoples of the two countries, is an ironclad bond that remains unbreakable and will be stronger with each passing day. They have supported each other and forged ahead amid global changes and uncertainties.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has yielded fruitful results. China on its part pursues friendship and partnership, and seeks an amicable, secure and prosperous neighbourhood in its diplomacy. The CPEC, initiated by the top leaders of the two countries, serves as an important platform for economic cooperation between China and Pakistan, and aims at achieving mutual benefits. As a landmark project of the Belt and Road Initiative, CPEC is described as the game-changer since it benefits the entire South Asia by enhancing regional connectivity and economic development. This year marks the 10th anniversary of CPEC. During these years, fruitful yields have been witnessed in in various areas, parti-cularly with respect to Gwadar port. Going forward, both sides have also agreed to actively promote the Main Line-1 (ML-1) project.

To date, CPEC has brought a total of $25.4 billion in direct investments to Pakistan, $17.55bn in revenue, $2.12bn in taxes, and more than 192,000 direct jobs, helping Pakistan add 6,000MW of electricity, 510km of highways and 886km of national core transmission network.

The CPEC projects attach great importance to localisation. For instance, the Orange Metro Line has so far created 9,000 jobs and trained over 1,300 local staff, representing over 97 per cent local input. All this clearly contradicts the assertions made in the said article.

Chinese companies and projects are operating in Pakistan in an open and transparent manner. All power and energy projects, for instance, follow Pakistan’s policy of open and transparent pricing. Only Chinese enterprises came to invest in Pakistan when the government called for bids. It is these companies and projects that have provided nearly a quarter of the electricity supply and have greatly alleviated power shortage in Pakistan. Even amid the prevailing economic difficulties, Chinese companies are still doing their job to support Pakistan.

China will continue to support financial stabilisation within its capacity. Only recently, the China Development Bank lent Pakistan further $700 million to shore up its foreign exchange reserves. In contradiction of the assertions made in the said article in an attempt to blame China for Pakistan’s debt crisis, a report by the Ministry of Finance in Islamabad, loans from multilateral financial institutions account for 48pc of the external debt, while commercial creditors and bank loans account for 22pc. The participation of multilateral financial institutions and commercial creditors in debt reduction initiatives is the key to effectively alleviate the debt burden of Pakistan.

Pakistan’s debt crisis is by nature the problem of development. Over the years, China has taken its financial and technological advantages to support Pakistan in implementing infrastructure and productive projects under the CPEC framework. I wonder what the intentions might be in dismissing China’s financial contribution to Pakistan.

China has been Pakistan’s largest trading partner for eight consecutive years and the largest source of foreign direct investment in recent years. In 2022, Pakistan’s exports to China exceeded $1 billion, with agricultural exports catching the pace. This is not a case of using Pakistan as “the world’s best place to park your capital”. In terms of technological cooperation, the Sahiwal Coal Power Plant meets global standards, and there is active cooperation in various fields, such as rail transportation, nuclear power and agriculture, dispelling the impression that “new ventures are … are low-tech”.

Moving on, educational exchanges and cooperation between the teo countries are developing well, and accusing Pakistani students in China of ‘gaming the system’ is neither fair nor justified.

Broadly speaking, the article in question is inconsistent with facts. China is not to be blamed. The fact of the matter is that China is a trustworthy friend of Pakistan.

Zhao Shiren
Consul-General of China,

March 1, 2023

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