ISLAMABAD – Pakistan, on Friday, backed China on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor loans amid the China-United States row.
Pakistan’s support came after the US urged China to take steps to ease the burden, its “predatory and unfair” lending is causing to Pakistan, during the coronavirus crisis.
Alice G Wells, US State Department’s top official for Central and South Asia said be it the CPEC or any other assistance, the US supports investment that meets international standards, upholds environmental and labour requirements and benefits the people of the region.
A foreign ministry statement said Pakistan and China are ‘All-Weather Strategic Co-operative Partners’. “We are engaged in prompting peace, development and stability in the region based on the principles of mutual respect, mutual benefit, win-win cooperation and shared development. Our ties are based on deep mutual trust and understanding,” it said.
It added, “Economic development and long-term prosperity of the people is our government’s top priority. CPEC, a flagship project of BRI, is a transformational project, contributing positively and transparently to Pakistan’s national development. Pakistan believes that regional economic connectivity will provide a critical stimulus for creating broad-based growth across the region.”
The statement said Pakistan had reiterated that “our total public debt relating to CPEC projects is less than 10 percent of the total debt. Moreover, the public debt obtained from China has a maturity period of 20 years and the interest rate on the borrowing is 2.34 percent. If grants are included, the interest value slides down to about two percent. The claims made by some of the commentators and public officials on Pakistan’s debt obligations relating to CPEC are contrary to facts.”
Pakistan also reiterated that CPEC, a long-term project, has helped address development gaps in energy, infrastructure, industrialization, and job creation.
“Pakistan and China have several mechanisms to discuss matters of mutual interest. Both countries are regularly in touch to address those issues bilaterally,” the statement said.
Amid the row, the US thanked Pakistan for its donation of PPE to support the fight against coronavirus. In a Tweet, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appreciated Pakistan’s goodwill donation of surgical masks and protective suits to Federal Emergency Management Agency.
He said that the assistance was a symbol of Pak-US solidarity in the fight against COVID-19. He termed it a “partnership for prosperity between the two countries”.
US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Alice Wells, in her tweet, also expressed gratitude to Pakistan for the goodwill donation.