LONDON: During his recent visit to the UK, AJK President Sardar Masood Khan, while speaking here at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a hugely beneficial project for Pakistan, China and potentially other countries of the region, was on track and would be completed with success. He was accompanied by Pakistan Army Adviser at PHC Col. Liaquat and other officials. The briefing session hosted by Raffaello Pantucci, Director RUSI.
President Masood Khan said that the CPEC was part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which by now was supported by 68 nations. China alone is expected to invest US $ 1 trillion in this trans-national, trans-continental undertaking. The underlying philosophy, he said, was to invest in regional connectivity and transnational cooperation by leveraging economic geography of adjacent regions. Infrastructure and industrial development, as well as mutually supported energy projects, would foster collaboration, reduce distances and bring nations closer as never before.
The President said that the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, had suggested that in this new era the existing and the emerging powers, instead of choosing the path of confrontation, should collectively and cooperatively mobilise resources for shared development and prosperity. This would also enhance the security of all nations, said the President.
President Masood Khan said that the revision of CPEC projects was an ongoing process which makes necessary adjustments in the projects undertaken jointly by Pakistan and China. Pakistan, he said, did not give importance to the apprehensions about the so-called “debt trap diplomacy”. To start with, the volume of Chinese debt ($ 6 billion) is relatively small in the overall volume of Pakistani debt. The interest rates, he said, included the range of zero percent, concessional loans, preferential buyer’s loans and commercial credit lines, with a long repayment period. Pakistan as a solvent country would repay its debts, he said.
The AJK President also said that in CPEC, Pakistan and China had taken a geo-economic initiative but now it had become inter-meshed with geo-political and geo-strategic considerations. Pakistan, he said, wanted to maintain a balance in its relations between China, the United States and other western countries. He rejected a notion propagated by some countries that BRI and CPEC were “disruptive initiatives”.