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CPEC is not a burden on Pakistan’s economy: Chinese envoys

 The Chinese ambassador and deputy ambassador to Pakistan on Friday dismissed the notion that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a burden on the Pakistani economy, assuring that the multi-billion-dollar project is of as much benefit to the local economy as it is to the People’s Republic.

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing, while giving a media briefing in Islamabad, said: “CPEC is beneficial not only for China but also for Pakistan.”

Jing said that “it is a wrong impression that only Chinese companies are benefiting from CPEC” or that “CPEC is a burden on Pakistan’s economy.” The ambassador said that they are ready to “provide information and clear reservations” regarding the project at anytime.

The Chinese deputy ambassador, meanwhile, claimed that CPEC would create a further 700,000 jobs by 2030, while by 2022 Pakistan’s energy needs will be met through its various initiatives.

Jing said that China wants to “improve and grow” Pakistan’s industry and exports through CPEC and the One Belt, One Road initiative, adding that “$19 billion over 22 CPEC projects are being spent” as part of CPEC.

He further said that “some global powers do not want to see China grow and prosper”, while also stressing that the “growth of Pakistan is essential for both China and the world.”

“Some powers are bothered by Pakistan and China’s cooperation, relationship and friendship,” the envoy said. Adding that the two neighbours remain unperturbed, Jing said that “they will continue to move forward through mutual cooperation at the policy level.”

The Chinese deputy ambassador also rejected reports that CPEC projects carry a 14 per cent interest rate, branding them a “pack of lies”. “China’s debt to Pakistan is 6.3pc of Pakistan’s total debt,” he said. “Pakistan only has to pay 2pc interest. It has 15 to 20 years to repay the loan. From 2020 to 2021, Pakistan has to pay between $300m and $400m.”

The Chinese deputy ambassador said that CPEC’s initial projects are on track to be completed by early 2019. Of the 22 initial projects, he said, 10 — seven of which are power plants — have already been completed, whereas 12 are ongoing.

“As part of these 12 projects, we are building the Karakoram Highway Phase 2, dry port, Karachi-Lahore Motorway,” he said, adding that “thoroughfares, freezone, a city master plan and schools” are also being built in Gwadar. He said that in future Iran and Afghanistan could also be added to CPEC.

“Monitoring Desk”

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