ISLAMABAD – The United States has announced full backing of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), acknowledging the mega-project’s benefits to people of the South Asian country, a Gulf-based newspaper has claimed.
“We believe that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) — and particularly its focus on transportation infrastructure and energy development – has the potential to contribute to stability and prosperity in Pakistan and the region,” a US State Department spokesperson said in an email response to Gulf Today.
The report in the newspaper further quoted the spokesman as saying that “the United States welcomes all development programmes that benefit the Pakistani people.”
The State Department official also tried to dispel the impression that the US is unhappy with close cooperation between Pakistan and China, a rising superpower, the report added.
“We have a shared interest with China in a stable and prosperous Pakistan. China can play an important role in expanding and improving Pakistan’s infrastructure and promoting power generation projects.”
More broadly, the spokesperson said, “We support open and inclusive initiatives that expand economic connectivity in South and Central Asia.
“The United States has been a strong supporter of regional economic integration, which has great potential to benefit all countries of the region.
“We welcome new forms of infrastructure investment as long as they adhere to the high standards of international financial institutions related to governance, which encourage host country institution building, and which include transparent, debt sustainability, environmental, and social safeguards.”
The statement comes weeks after the US criticism by Defence Secretary James Mattis. In a statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mattis had said that “the One Belt, One Road initiative goes through the disputed territory”, an obvious reference to CPEC’s route through Gilgit-Baltistan.
Both China and Pakistan had swiftly rejected the criticism on the corridor.
However, the latest US stance is likely to improve Washington’s ties with Islamabad which are already on the mend following a successful rescue operation by Pakistan’s security forces to free a North American family from Taliban captors.