ISLAMABAD – Lijian Zhao, Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) and Minister Counsellor at Chinese Embassy, has clarified that the idea of multi-billion dollars China Pakistan Economic Corridor was initiated by former President Asif Ali Zardari who introduced the prime minister in waiting to Premier Li to discuss the idea.
Addressing a seminar titled CPEC & Role of Media – Separating Facts from Misconceptions, Zhao said the success of all CPEC projects is based on transparency to minimise corruption.
In a tweet, the official endorsed his comments, reiterating that Asif Zardari was behind the project that links the South-Asian states.
Chinese envoy claims CPEC was initiated by China when Zardari was in power in 2013. CPEC is an across-the-board national consensus in Pakistan. CPEC is most successful project under the BRI. https://t.co/R3TX1rpSrc
— Lijian Zhao 赵立坚 (@zlj517) June 26, 2018
“The CPEC is a national project of Pakistan and it is a part of One Belt One Road initiative,” Zhao shared.
The Chinese official also negated the rumours that Chinese prisoners were employed in various CPEC projects across Pakistan, highlighting that this project contributes to promoting Pakistan-China connectivity and will cement the ties between the two countries.
Zhao said the foremost thing was scientific planning after which a step by step implementation is required.
‘Consensus has been built through consultation which will eventually give multiple benefits resulting in a win-win situation, while insurance of quality and safety is another aspect,’ he added.
The diplomat highlighted that government’s guidance and operation will be required on every stage.
On the occasion, Information Minister Barrister Ali Zafar recalled that first airline that landed in China from non-communist countries was that of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).
Zafar explained that Pakistan began a friendship with China despite the opposition by the international community which was divided into eastern and western blocks.
The minister lavished praise on Pakistan’s all-weather friend and shared that whenever Pakistan had a problem or issue, it looked forward to China which always supported Pakistan in its hour of need.
The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the project of economic cooperation and an example of the friendship of two countries, he concluded.
Meanwhile, Dr Ishrat Husain, former Governor State Bank of Pakistan, and Ikram Sehgal, member World Economic Forum, highlighted the importance of CPEC.
To a query whether the lack of transparency and corruption in Pakistan could hit the CPEC projects, Sehgal replied that it depends on the outcome of July elections.
The comments of Chinese diplomat must have surprised the political analysts and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, which has been taking the credit for bringing in billions of dollars under the banner of CPEC.
There have been multiple claimants to the project which has been termed ‘Game changer’ for Pakistan. Not only Zardari, former president Musharraf also claims having played a pivotal part for the corridor that connects China’s Kashgar in Xinjiang with Gwadar port in Pakistan’s Balochistan.