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Chinese Embassy says Alice speech to defame Sino-Pak ties

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May 22, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Chinese Embassy termed the speech of US Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells totally baseless and attempt to defame Sino-Pak relations and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Spokesperson for Chinese Embassy in Islamabad stated that today marks the 69th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between China and Pakistan.

“For the past 69 years, our two countries have established and consolidated an all-weather friendship. We respect each other and support each other. We cooperate for common prosperity. We work together to promote regional peace and stability,” the spokesperson said. He said in the current fight against COVID-19, China and Pakistan stand together and China donated medical equipment and materials of more than $55 million to Pakistan. “We take Pakistan as an equal partner and never asked Pakistan to "do more". We support Pakistan’s own model of development and never intervene its domestic affairs. We highlight Pakistan’s responsible role in regional affairs and never exert pressure,” he said. He further said CPEC is an important cooperation project between the governments of China and Pakistan. It has always adhered to the principles of mutual benefit, win-win cooperation, openness and transparency. The planning and implementation of the projects are carried out by the two sides through thorough consultations based on equality and scientific study.

Spokesperson said that Chinese companies under the CPEC are all leading companies in their respective sectors and operate in full compliance with local laws and regulations. Since its implementation, the CPEC has brought $25 billion in direct investment and created more than 75,000 jobs for Pakistan. China has been the major source of FDI for Pakistan in the past five consecutive years. While according to the BOI, the FDI from the USA to Pakistan was a bit over $1 billion between 2012 and 2019.

He said since the COVID-19 outbreak, there is zero infection on CPEC projects due to strict measures taken by both sides. The Chinese companies have not suspended construction nor have they laid-off a single local staff. The CPEC projects have secured local employment and kept contributing to Pakistan’s economy. The energy projects are generating 1/3 of the electricity for Pakistan now. The Phase II of KKH is almost ready for traffic. The integrated test and commissioning for the Lahore Orange Line have been successfully completed. The construction of the new airport in Gwadar entered the second phase. Gwadar has become an economic hub for Balochistan. All Chinese companies working for the CPEC have generously donated medical assistance to Pakistan in the current difficult situation. Over 20,000 Pakistani students are studying in China on scholarships provided by the Chinese government and universities. In the next stage of the CPEC, both sides will strength the cooperation on healthcare, industrial development, agriculture and education. The CPEC will give new impetus to Pakistan’s economic revival even in the post COVID-19 period.

Chinese Embassy spokesperson said China knows the impact of the COVID-19 on Pakistan’s economy and is sparing no effort to help Pakistan address the challenge. According to the State Bank of Pakistan, its debt from multilateral institutions amounts to about 47 percent of its total external debt, while loans from the CPEC is only $5.8 billion, 5.22 percent of the Pakistan's total debt. It has no pressure on Pakistan at all. Recently, the G20 members adopted a Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the Poorest Countries. China supported Pakistan to be included and is ready to provide relief. China will never force Pakistan to pay back the debts and China’s loans have no strings attached.

While China and Pakistan are cooperating to prevent and control the epidemic, China sent a group of experts to Pakistan to combat the locust plague. China has donated 300 tons of malathion and 50 air-powered high-efficiency remote sprayers to Pakistan in this regard. “We are ready to extend more help. The CPFTA Phase-II has taken effect from Jan 1, 2020. The level of trade liberalisation between the two countries has increased with the tariffs further reduced.” In addition, China and Pakistan are working together to promote the peace process in Afghanistan and provide humanitarian assistance to Afghan refugees in Pakistan. China also opposes the politicisation of the International Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and is working with Pakistan to strengthen its capacity.

“We have no intention to comment on the Pakistan-US relations, but we hope the USA can show basic respect to the choice by China and Pakistan. Irresponsible speech and unscrupulous blames won’t help. We also hope the USA will abandon its cold war and zero-sum mentality, fulfill its responsibilities, extend due respect and give concrete assistance to Pakistan. We need no teachers, especially a teacher like the USA,” he said.

Earlier, the US has asked China to waive debt payments and renegotiate loans to Pakistan due to unprecedented sufferings caused out of COVID-19 pandemic on its economy.

"At a time of crisis like COVID, with the world reeling from the economic consequences, having shutdown parts of the economy, it is really incumbent on China to take steps to alleviate the burden that this predatory and unsustainable and unfair lending is going to cause Pakistan," said Alice Wells, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, and Acting Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia.

Addressing an online press briefing, Wells hoped that China would join in either waiving debt, renegotiating loans and creating a fair and transparent deals for the Pakistani people.

"We are joining other voices in the region and globally calling on China to offer transparent relief from the Belt and Road predatory loans that the countries are now suffering from," Wells said while highlighting what the western countries along with international institutions were offering. "Our private sector, our partnership with international financial institutions like the World Bank, IMF and Asian Development Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; we will use this partnership to help ensure that countries reemerge from this crisis on stable footing. And we urge others to join us in this global effort."