China responds to Wells, says remarks about CPEC are repetition of old slander

China on Monday responded to criticism made by US Acting Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells, saying that the American diplomat’s remarks were nothing new and were a “mere repetition of old slanders” against China, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Belt and Road initiative.

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Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang, during a press briefing, said that certain individuals in US were not bad at math, but rather misguided by “evil calculations”.

Geng said, “China and Pakistan have clarified and refuted such smears time and again. However, some in the US still use the same old script. They don’t stop though the show has become a complete disaster, and they don’t get off the stage even when booed by the audience.”

In advancing CPEC development, Beijing is committed to consulting and cooperating for shared benefits, said the spokesperson, adding that China has put the interests of Pakistani people first.

The spokesperson also informed that Wells claims were immediately refuted by Pakistan’s foreign minister, minister for planning and development, National Assembly speaker, and chairman of the Senate foreign affairs committee.

Major progress had been achieved in the last five years and benefits have started to pop up in at least 22 projects, he said.

The progress had “significantly improved” local transportation infrastructure and power supply, created tens of thousands of jobs for Pakistanis and contributed one to two per cent of economic growth in Pakistan, he said.

The spokesperson added that this showed that CPEC was playing an increasingly important role in boosting Pakistan’s socio-economic development. “Whether the CPEC works and whether China-Pakistan cooperation is good or not, the answer is presented to you in facts and data,” he said.

The official added that Washington was in “total disregard” of facts, adding that the US had been talking about fabricated “debt issue” with the “true aim” to disrupt CPEC development and sow discord in China-Pakistan relations.

The spokesperson clarified that 80 per cent of CPEC projects were funded by direct investment or grants from China, with less than 20 per cent using Chinese loans. He added that the statistics released by Pakistan showed that debt incurred from CPEC stood at $4.9 billion which was less than one-tenth of Pakistan’s total debt.

The spokesperson also said that if Washington wanted to cooperate with Islamabad then it should take concrete measures and honour its commitments “instead of always paying lip service and being the spoiler”.

He said, “It is neither healthy nor honourable to prevent others from delivering what one fails too.”

The spokesperson reiterated that whatever the US says or does to sabotage the cooperation, China will work with Pakistan for steady progress in CPEC.

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