Shahid Khaqan Abbasi dismisses reports of CPEC being a debt trap, calls it new form of cooperation

Karachi: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday dismissed reports that the CPEC could be a debt trap for Pakistan and described the $ 50 billion project as a new form of cooperation between China and Pakistan.  Addressing a seminar on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Abbasi said the project is a reality despite reservations from different quarters.

He said Pakistan looked at the CPEC as a partnership between the two governments.

File image of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Reuters

File image of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Reuters

The CPEC, a flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), has become a major stumbling block for the China-India ties. India protested about the CPEC as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) disregarding India's sovereignty concerns.

Rebutting reports that the CPEC could be a debt trap for Pakistan, he said people need to read history.

"Three years ago CPEC was unheard off but today it is a reality acknowledged by many countries. The BRI initiative of Chinese President Xi is a project for generations," he said. "Recently, we discussed security and connectivity with Afghanistan, who also recognises the CPEC as an opportunity."

The prime minister said that two power projects under the CPEC initiative have been completed and the third one is about to be finished. The IMF last year cautioned that the corridor projects will generate outflows of as much as $4.5 billion by 2024, while the export benefits of the projects will likely accrue gradually over time. It said filling the gap in between could pose a policy challenge.

Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing in his address made it clear that the CPEC is not just about economic growth but about connectivity between the two countries. He noted that for the past 40 years, China has made every effort to develop and grow its economy and combined socialism and market economy to benefit people.

"China wants to see its relationship with Pakistan serve as an example for its relations with other states," Jing said. "We look at the CPEC as a significant project. I'm proud that after five years of implementation, it (CPEC) has contributed to Pakistan's development. CPEC is not just about economic growth; we want to develop a community," he said.

Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif also addressed the summit insisting that the CPEC has helped strengthen the federation of Pakistan.

"Those who doubt intentions of the Chinese are enemies of Pakistan. China is one of Pakistan's most reliable friends. Once the Chinese were convinced that people of Pakistan rightly deserved their support, then came President Xi's vision of belt and road initiative (BRI) which came to be known as CPEC," he said.

Updated Date: Apr 23, 2018 21:58 PM

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