Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – Fed up of hearing charges that the China-Pak Economic Corridor is beset with corruption, favoritism, abysmal working conditions and the like, a top Chinese official in Pakistan yesterday tweeted his displeasure over the baseless accusations.

The allegations and charges appear to have angered Zhao Lijian, the acting Chinese ambassador and chargé d’affaires, who has used Twitter over the past few months to defend the CPEC.

Zhao took to Twitter early on Tuesday morning after he was apparently angered by an allegation that China was using “prisoners as labour” on the CPEC.

While trying to clear the air regarding the China-funded multi billion dollars project, the Chinese envoy got into arguments with Dawn’s Cyril Almeida who stirred a storm in October by revealing the details of a top-secret security meeting between civil and military leadership.

The senior columnist of Daily Dawn also referred to China’s long battle with corruption.

Zhao didn’t like that. He tweeted this back:

Then, addressing a rumour that China is using Chinese prisoners to work on the $51 billion project – to save labour costs – Zhao fulminated thus:

The journalist then questioned the tone of the tweet, especially the bit that said “out of their mind”.

The top diplomat didn’t like that one bit either and shot back:

Cyril wasn’t the only one surprised at this aggression.

Earlier on Monday, Zhao had dismissed criticism of the CPEC at a seminar organized by a thinktank in Islamabad on Monday. “CPEC is working well. But there are some people who are maligning the project, which enjoys the support of most of the people of Pakistan,” he said.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor aims to facilitate trade along an overland route that connects Kashgar in China and the Gwadar port in Pakistan, through the construction of a network of highways, railways and pipelines.

The CPEC was announced in 2013 but work began on infrastructure that is part of the venture over the past year, with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif looking to the project to create jobs and ramp up the generation of electricity to counter a crippling energy crisis.

However, Pakistani experts have repeatedly questioned how China will raise the funds for the CPEC and also the amount that Islamabad will have to pay back as interest on loans for the project, with one estimate putting the annual net outflow at $3.54 billion.