China on Monday urged the International Monetary Fund to carry out an objective and professional evaluation of Beijing’s investments in Pakistan after Islamabad approached the global lender for a bailout, PTI reported.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said the bailout measures agreed to by the world body should not affect relations between the two countries. “As a member of the IMF, China supports the organisation having cooperation with Pakistan in objectively and professionally evaluating the situation on the ground in Pakistan,” he added.
“Also, we support the IMF [helping Pakistan] in coping with the current difficulties,” said Lu. “Their measures shall not affect normal bilateral cooperation between China and Pakistan.”
The comments came a day after Pakistan Finance Minister Asad Umar agreed to share with the International Monetary Fund the details of Chinese loans procured for projects that are part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Umar was speaking to reporters in Islamabad on his return from Indonesia, where he spoke to IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde about a bailout package. An IMF team is scheduled to arrive in Pakistan on November 7 to discuss the bailout, which likely to be spread over three years, the Pakistani minister added.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. India has opposed the project as part of it will pass through the disputed territory in Kashmir.
Reacting to Pakistan disclosing Chinese debt, Lu said the two countries have undertaken the projects under the principle of “consultation and contribution for shared benefits”. The arrangements of finances were made on equal consultation, he added.
“In fact, judging from the debt structure already released by the Pakistani government, their debt incurred from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor accounts for low proportion,” said Lu. “So, it is not the reason for Pakistan’s financial difficulties.”
Beijing would like to cooperate with Pakistan to expand the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects and help it develop as per its own strength, added Lu.
Earlier this month, Pakistan decided to reduce investment in a railway project by $2 billion (approximately Rs 1,468 crore) after the new government expressed concerns about the national debt. Since Imran Khan took over as the new prime minister, Pakistan has attempted to rethink several such projects.