Pakistan and China rubbish propaganda against CPEC

* Ministry terms FT report baseless, says Islamabad's commitment to CPEC is unwavering * Chinese Embassy says both governments will carry CPEC forward according to needs of Pakistan * Beijing says future direction of cooperation under CPEC will be set as per economic and social development priorities of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Both Pakistan and China on Monday rubbished all negative propaganda against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and reiterated the pledge to implement the project, emphasizing that the initiative is a win-win cooperation opportunity for both the countries.

“It is a firm consensus between China and Pakistan that the CPEC is a mutually beneficial project and both the governments will carry it forward according to the needs of Pakistan and for the development of Pakistan,” a statement issued by the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad said. The embassy rubbished a report carried by the Financial Times that Pakistan was mulling over a review of the CPEC.

“Such ill-intentioned reports based on distorted and misquoted information only demonstrate that the writer is total ignorant of the CPEC or China-Pakistan traditional partnership,” the statement added.

The Financial Times report quoting Prime Minister’s Advisor on Commerce, Textiles, Industries and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood had claimed that Islamabad was planning to halt all the CPEC-related projects for at least a year because the “deals that were giving illegal benefits to the Chinese companies needed to be revisited and made anew.”

However, Abdul Razak Dawood dismissed the report, stating that his comments were taken out of context. “The article published in Financial Times titled ‘Pakistan rethinks its role in China’s Belt and Road Plan’ is based on comments taken out of context,” a clarification issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Textiles said. “Pakistan-China relations are impregnable and the government’s commitment to CPEC is unwavering. Pakistan has reassured the Chinese government that CPEC is a national priority for the government and the Chinese side has also underscored the significance of the initiative for both the countries. There is a complete unanimity between the two governments on the future direction of CPEC,” the statement said.

Referring to the recent visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to Islamabad, the statement said, “During the recent visit of Wang Yi, both countries decided to take their all-weather strategic cooperative partnership forward. Both governments also reaffirmed their commitment to CPEC.”

Back in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said both the countries have agreed to accelerate the CPEC plan. He said Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Pakistan was mainly aimed at renewing the traditional friendship, promoting mutually beneficial cooperation and further boosting the bilateral all-weather strategic cooperative partnership.

Geng said that Wang Yi reached an important consensus with the Pakistani side on accelerating the implementation of CPEC, adding that the achievements made by both sides in executing the plan are obvious to all. “China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic partners. The relationship between the two sides is above and beyond the political parties and the regime changes,” he said. “The relationship between China and Pakistan is not directed at third parties and will not be affected by developments in their respective relations with other countries,” he added.

“China is willing to work with the new elected government in Pakistan to make bilateral relations a model of good neighbourhood and friendship, a pillar of regional peace and stability, and a benchmark for building the Belt and Road Initiative,” the spokesperson said. “China will boost its aid to Pakistan in the areas of agriculture, education, healthcare, drinking water and other areas of people’s livelihood so that more people can receive tangible benefits,” he said. “At the same time, according to the next economic and social development priorities of Pakistan and the needs of the people, the future development path and cooperation direction of the CPEC will be determined through consultation,” he added.

Published in Daily Times, September 11th 2018.