China’s top diplomat and Pakistan’s new prime minister, Imran Khan, met yesterday in Islamabad pledging to press on with the multi-billion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), despite recent problems.
A flagship scheme of China’s global Belt & Road Initiative, CPEC involves a suite of infrastructure projects through Pakistan, including road, rail, energy and port developments, that will link western China to the Arabian Sea at the port of Gwadar.
The combined total of China’s CPEC loan investments has been estimated at $62bn.
Concerns have been raised over the impact of CPEC on Pakistan’s debt load. In July it emerged that Chinese contractors had stopped work on a number of projects because cheques issued by the Pakistan government had bounced.
In December China suspended CPEC funding on three major highway projects following media reports into corruption.
But yesterday China’s foreign minister Wang Yi and newly-elected prime minister Imran Khan affirmed their commitment to CPEC.
Wang also met with Pakistan’s new president, Arif Alvi, who was sworn in that day, reports state news agency Xinhua.
At a press conference, Wang rejected the notion that CPEC was compounding Pakistan’s debt burden.
He said the mega project was helping increase economic growth by 1-2% every year, and was creating approximately 70,000 jobs, reports newspaper Dawn.
Photograph: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, left, meets with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Islamabad, Pakistan, on 9 September 2018. (Xinhua/Liu Tian)