ISLAMABAD – A senior Chinese diplomat on Friday admitted that the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister disrupted coordination for China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for a brief period of time.
Lijian Zhao, Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) and Minister Counsellor at Chinese Embassy said that after the removal of Nawaz Sharif in late July, the post of the planning minister remained vacant for about two months but added that after the appointment of Ahsan Iqbal as planning minister again, the condition improved.
“Political stability is a must for economic development,” he said in an exclusive interview with The News.
The diplomat expressed it will not be correct to say CPEC was not affected at all by the change of the prime minister and continued that to say it was affected grossly will also be a wrong statement.
“Projects on grounds remained unaffected,” the diplomat said.
Zhao clarified that Nawaz Sharif might have been removed but his party was still in the government which showed the stability of the system.
Regarding the allegations of corruption in CPEC related projects, the Chinese diplomat said so far not a single incident of corruption had been observed in projects.
“China was closely monitoring CPEC projects to ensure they were graft-free and current Chinese leadership was very strict regarding corruption”
Regarding the allegations of “mega corruption” scam worth Rs1.8 billion in Multan Metro Bus, the diplomat clarified that Yabaite lied about investment and profits in many countries to artificially raise its share prices in China for which it was probed and punished by the Chinese counterpart of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).
CPEC- A Win-Win for Pakistan and China
Terming the multi-billion Dollars economic corridor project a win-win for both countries, the official expressed that two major bottlenecks in Pakistan’s economic prosperity were energy shortage and lack of infrastructure, however, added that CPEC addresses both of them paving the way for a brighter future for the country.
He said before the initiation of CPEC there was up to 12-hour load-shedding in Pakistan which had reduced to a couple of hours now and would soon be completely over.
“After a few years Pakistan will face a different problem; how to deal with surplus energy? The country will be able to choose its option to sell extra electricity,” he declared.
The Chinese official went on and claimed that there will be at least 60,000 jobs directly related to CPEC while countless other jobs will be created as a result of economic activity generated by the corridor.
“Let’s be clear CPEC is not a gift or assistance. It has two major components, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Soft loans.”
He also negated the claims made by few analysts that Pakistan had to pay 13 percent interest rate for Chinese projects.
“These are totally fabricated figures motivated either by political agenda or vested interest”.
He clarified that for projects under soft loans worth about $6 billion the interest rate was 2 percent while for FDI the interest rate was 6 percent.
China as Arbitrator between Pakistan-Afghanistan
Lijian Zhao expressed that China was also working to bring Pakistan and Afghanistan closer for peace and stability in the region and Chinese shuttle diplomacy was yielding positive results.
“Soon there will be a high-level meeting attended by the foreign ministers of Pakistan, Afghanistan and China and preparation for the same are underway,” he said.