The United States on Thursday said that the upcoming China-Pakistan Economic Corridor would eventually take a toll on Pakistan’s economy, and would only benefit China, reported AFP.
“It’s clear, or it needs to be clear, that CPEC is not about aid,” said Alice Wells, the acting assistant secretary of state for South Asia. “CPEC relies primarily on Chinese workers and supplies, even amid rising unemployment in Pakistan. The corridor is going to take a growing toll on the Pakistan economy, especially when the bulk of payments start to come in the next four to six years.”
Wells added: “Even if loan payments are deferred, they are going to continue to hang over Pakistan’s economic development potential, hamstringing Prime Minister [Imran] Khan’s reform agenda.”
Wells said Pakistan should ask China tough questions on debt, accountability, fairness and transparency, reported PTI. “Ask the Chinese government why it is pursuing a development model in Pakistan, that significantly deviates from what brought China its own economic success,” said the US diplomat.
During her speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Wells said the US offered a better model to Pakistan that could boost the country’s economy. She cited the examples of US companies like Uber, Exxon Mobil, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola that have invested in Pakistan. “There is a different model,” Wells said. “Worldwide we see that US companies bring more than just capital; they bring values, processes and expertise that build the capacities of local economies.”
In 2015, Pakistan and China inked an agreement to start work on the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, which consists of a network of infrastructure and energy projects. The corridor is an integral part of Beijing’s $900 billion One Belt, One Road, later renamed Belt and Road Initiative, which was unveiled in 2013. The corridor connects Kashgar in western China with Gwadar port in Pakistan.
India has repeatedly raised concerns about the CPEC as it comprises parts of Kashmir that are occupied by Pakistan. In September, the Ministry of External Affairs even called the corridor illegal.