Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan vowed on Friday that his government would complete the ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) at “any cost” as the USD 60 billion project is a manifestation of the all-weather friendship between the two countries.
Addressing a meeting held here to review progress on the CPEC projects, Khan said it is an excellent project for Pakistan’s socio-economic development and the “gigantic multi-faceted initiative would guarantee a bright future for the nation”, the Dawn newspaper reported.
Lauding the performance of the CPEC Authority, he said measures must be taken to improve its working as well as capacity.
“The corridor is a manifestation of Pakistan-China friendship and the government will complete it at any cost and bring its fruit to every Pakistani,” Khan said.
Khan’s statement came a day after Chinese Foriegn Minister Wang Yi discussed the CPEC projects with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi during a phone conversation.
Wang called for the two countries to speed up the projects under the CPEC to help Pakistan’s economic recovery. He also hoped that the Pakistani government would provide more protection for Chinese companies and citizens working in the country.
The CPEC, which connects Gwadar Port in Pakistan’s Balochistan with China’s Xinjiang province, is the flagship project of China’‘s ambitious multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
A Chinese official last month admitted that the majority of the projects under the BRI are either adversely or partially affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
About a fifth of the projects under the BRI, which aims to boost trade and investment across Asia, Africa and Europe to further China’‘s global influence, had been “seriously affected” by the pandemic, according to Wang Xiaolong, director-general of the foreign ministry’‘s international economic affairs department.
About 40 per cent of the projects were “adversely affected”, and a further 30-40 per cent were “somewhat affected”, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted Wang as saying.
The projects which were disrupted included the CPEC, it said.
The CPEC is a collection of infrastructure and other projects under construction throughout Pakistan since 2013. Originally valued at USD 46 billion, the projects were worth USD 62 billion as of 2017.
India has protested to China over the CPEC as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The BRI was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping when he came to power in 2013. It aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.
The BRI is seen as an attempt by China to further its influence abroad with infrastructure projects funded by Chinese investments all over the world.
The initiative also led to allegations of smaller countries reeling under mounting Chinese debt after Sri Lanka gave its Hambantota port in a debt swap to China in 2017 on a 99-year lease