Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said on Thursday that when it comes to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Pakistan has to look out for what is in the country’s best interests.
“We will continue to do what is beneficial to us,” the foreign minister said in a statement released by his office Thursday morning.
Qureshi’s remarks come a day after China issued a strongly-worded statement in response to allegations levelled by US diplomat Ambassador Alice Wells, who said there was no transparency in CPEC projects.
Claiming that Pakistan’s debt burden was growing due to the Chinese financing, Wells alleged that companies blacklisted by the World Bank had got contracts in the CPEC.
Speaking at an event in Islamabad on Tuesday, Wells insisted that Chinese money was not assistance. By getting Chinese financing for the projects, Pakistan was buying expensive loans and as a buyer it needed to be aware of what it was doing as this would take a heavy toll on its already struggling economy, she contended.
A day later, taking strong exception to the senior US diplomat’s remarks, the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan emphatically warned the US against meddling in Pak-China ties and the CPEC.
“We would be more than glad to see the US develop its relationship with Pakistan, but we strongly oppose the US interference in China-Pakistan relations and the CPEC.… we have to make our position clear and reject the negative propaganda by the US. We must not let the truth be distorted and the lies run wild,” the embassy said in a statement.
“The comments hold nothing new,” the embassy said and reminded that both China and Pakistan have repeatedly rejected similar insinuations in the past.
“However, the US side still ignores the facts and is obsessed with the story it made for the CPEC,” it added.
Noting that China “puts Pakistani people’s interests first” in CPEC projects, the embassy underscored that China and Pakistan staunchly adhere to “principles of mutual consultation and cooperation” for shared benefits.
The embassy asked the US to let people of Pakistan decide whether or not CPEC suited them instead of judging by itself. It said the 32 CPEC early harvest projects completed over past five years have significantly improved local transportation infrastructure and power supply, created over 75,000 jobs directly and contributed up to two per cent of Pakistan’s GDP growth in Pakistan.
“It shows that CPEC is playing an important role in boosting Pakistan’s socioeconomic development and improving people’s livelihood,” China asserted.